News

Brock Turner judge recuses himself from child-porn case

Aaron Persky cites publicity, impartiality as reasons for recusal

Embattled Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, who is currently facing a recall campaign for his controversial sentencing of former Stanford University student-athlete Brock Turner, has recused himself from an upcoming hearing in a child-pornography case.

In a statement filed with the court on Friday, Persky wrote that while on vacation earlier this month, he and his family were exposed to publicity surrounding the case, in which Persky sentenced a 48-year-old San Jose resident who pleaded guilty to a felony child-pornography charge to four days in county jail. The Recall Persky campaign released in early August information and documents related to the sentencing, pointing to it as further evidence of Persky's alleged bias in sex-crime cases.

"This publicity has resulted in a personal family situation such that a person aware of the facts might reasonably entertain a doubt that the judge would be able to be impartial," Persky wrote in his brief statement, which the district attorney's office provided to the Palo Alto Weekly.

Persky was set to oversee a hearing for defendant Robert Chain this Thursday on a motion to have his felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor. This has repeatedly been moved to Oct. 6, and will now be overseen by Judge Kenneth Barnum.

Chain was arrested in Sunnyvale in May 2014 following an investigation conducted by the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and charged the next month with one count of possessing/controlling matter depicting a person under age 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, according to court documents. The crime carries a maximum three-year penalty and no minimum. Persky eventually gave him the four-day sentence, three year's probation and ordered him to register as a sex offender.

Chain's attorney, Brian Madden of San Jose firm Madden & Redding, declined to comment on the record.

Assistant District Attorney Terry Harman said in a statement that "It is a judge's responsibility to recuse him or herself if there are issues of impartiality."

"We're focused on the prosecution of the defendant in this matter," she said. "We're confident that the case will be handled by the bench fairly."

Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who is chairing the Recall Persky effort, told the Weekly that the campaign is "relieved" Persky won't be handling this case.

"Judge Perksy's record in child-pornography cases shows he's biased when compared with every other judge in Santa Clara County," she said, pointing to research the campaign conducted on sentencing outcomes for 14 similar felony possession of child-pornography cases in Santa Clara County that showed every other defendant received a sentence of six months. Chain's case was the only one overseen by Persky, according to the recall campaign.

The Palo Alto Weekly has created Storify pages to capture ongoing coverage of the Brock Turner case as well as sexual-assault issues at Stanford University. To view them, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.

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Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Hopenchange
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Thank you Michele for being willing to stand up for victims. I admire you very much. We are very lucky to have you in our community. Please ignore all the ignorant nay-sayers.


27 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 23, 2016 at 3:34 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

This judge should have recused himself from the Brock Turner trial as well. He will never be allowed to preside over a sexual assualt or child pornography trial again. He seems intrinsically biased against victims of sex crimes. Frankly, he needs to voluntarily step down and enter prolonged and deep theraphy.


23 people like this
Posted by Leave persky alone
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 23, 2016 at 4:12 pm

As usual, the weekly has decided that it will support one side in this matter and thereafter all coverage will be one sided and biased against judge perskey. Note they deleted a comment t about dauber, but leave a rude comment against persky.
Maurucio- enough with the insulting and negative comments against persky. What you and the other anti- persky zealots seem to forget is that the judge followed the probation department guideline. Judges should never base their decisions on vocal people with personal agendas, that go against our legal principles. [Portion removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by nomorebsplease
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Don't leave Persky alone.

He does not get a pass just cause the probation department recommended something. It was just a recommendation!!!!!!!!!!!!

HE SHOULD NOT HAVE FOLLOWED THAT FLAWED RECOMMENDATION, PRETTY SIMPLE AND HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.

two years would be against our legal principles? what are you talking about?
Sexual assault should not be dismissed [portion removed].


10 people like this
Posted by Zak
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Persky has shown such an indulgent "boys will be boys" attitude towards defendants in sex crime cases [Portion removed]. 


13 people like this
Posted by Know Weigh
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Know Weigh is a registered user.

Perskt has shown far too much sympathy for sex offenders, and far too much antipathy toward their victims.

All is not right with this guy, he is seemingly incapable of being a judge. [Portion removed.]

Perskt should step down [portion removed].


12 people like this
Posted by Curbside Commentator
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2016 at 5:00 pm

I support Judge Persky and judicial independence. All of the anger arises from but one decision wherein the judge acted well within his judicial discretions and followed the applicable laws. There has been no evidence cited by critics as to judicial malfeasance, or sentencing bias (as to race or gender). That this judge may sentence differnetly than others, but all within the guidelines given them, is not bias worthy of a recall petition. It is a major blow to judicial independence if we can recall a judge because in our opinion his/her opinion is wrong. If we disagree with the state's sentencing guidelines that shape a judge's decision we can work to constrict them. If at the end of an elected judge's term we are displeased with his/her body of work we can hope to elect someone else.
But we set an extremely dangerous precedent that goes to the core of judicial independence if we see fit to haul off the bench a judge for one decision we didn't like.


1 person likes this
Posted by someone
a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Michele Dauber tweeted and gave many interviews saying that Judge Persky is from Stanford. He is an undergrad from Stanford, but his law degree from UC Berkely. He should be considered as a Berkeley alum! [Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2016 at 6:48 am

Is he still here?


I would have thought he should have the sense to pack his bags long ago. Does he really want to suffer the indignity and humiliating defeat of a recall? I would have thought as a judge he had more sense than this.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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