News


As recall vote nears, judge defends his record

Aaron Persky speaks out about judicial independence, sentencing first-time offenders

Judge Aaron Persky speaks out at a press conference about his forthcoming recall election in a private residence in Palo Alto on May 8, 2018. Photo by Adam Pardee.

It was almost three years ago that Judge Aaron Persky handed down his highest-profile sentence in a windowless Palo Alto courtroom.

The six months in jail that he gave to former Stanford University student Brock Turner, who had been convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated young woman on campus the year prior, set off a firestorm of public outrage so strong that he is now facing a recall election on June 5. His opponents argue he has demonstrated a pattern of bias against women in sexual and physical violence cases. His supporters say Persky followed the letter of the law in those cases and contend that the recall, if successful, will do irreparable damage to judicial independence.

As a sitting judge, Persky is barred from publicly commenting on open cases he presided over or on the recall itself. After launching his official retain campaign in 2016, he released a short statement but has otherwise declined to speak publicly. (Behind the scenes, Persky has tried through legal means to block the recall; his third attempt was denied by the California Supreme Court last week.)

But now, with less than a month left until election day, he is venturing back into the public eye to make a final plea to voters. He is granting media interviews for the first time and holding a press conference in Palo Alto on Tuesday, May 8.

In an interview with the Palo Alto Weekly on Friday, May 4, Persky argued that the recall will set a dangerous precedent for judges, who pledge to make decisions independent of public opinion.

"I trust that my colleagues on the bench will keep their promise, their oath," he said. "But ... will Jane Q Public, looking at what's happened to Judge Persky, think, 'OK, (in) the next tough sexual-assault sentencing, is this judge going to be able to step into that case and completely tune out what's going on around her?'

"We're required under the code of judicial ethics to promote public confidence in the judiciary," he continued. "I think the recall will shake that confidence and that's why I'm against it."

Persky said that while he doesn't dispute the right to recall a judge -- a relatively rare provision in existence in just nine states -- he believes recalls based on the decisions a judge has rendered are inappropriate.

"Substantively I think that recalls are appropriate where judges are either incompetent or commit misconduct, but when recalls are based on judges' decision making, I think that is a step too far," Persky said. "It really runs the risk of putting judges out there in the political arena and making them subject to that type of political pressure."

Persky pointed to a 2015 study of social science research by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law that found that proximity to re-election made judges more likely to impose harsher and longer sentences.

Persky supports eliminating the judicial recall provision in California, arguing that there are already well-established systems to hold judges accountable for misconduct: the appellate process and the state's Commission on Judicial Independence, an independent body charged with investigating complaints against judges and disciplining them.

In response to thousands of complaints and a petition with close to one million signatures, the commission investigated Persky but ruled that the judge did not abuse his authority nor exhibit bias in the Turner sentencing or in five other cases that the recall campaign asserts show a "pattern" of bias. (In its ruling, the commission pointed to other judges who have been disciplined for misconduct as being in "stark contrast" to Persky, including a judge who referred to a rape victim as a "horse's ass.") The recall campaign contends the commission's ruling was based in part on factual inaccuracies.

Persky also criticized the process by which recalls are put on the ballot, saying it is too easy for a well-funded campaign to gather the needed signatures to qualify the measure by paying signature gatherers. The recall campaign gathered close to 100,000 signatures, far beyond the 58,634 valid signatures required. The campaign spent about $350,000 to $400,000 on the signature-gathering effort, according to chair Michele Dauber.

"To get 90,000-plus signatures on a volunteer-only campaign is a truly Herculean task," Persky said. "To raise enough money to get a signature gathering company to round up the itinerant signature gatherers to come to Santa Clara County is not as Herculean."

The recall campaign has raised $1.2 million, according to Dauber.

Persky's campaign has raised about $271,000 since January 2017, according to his campaign finance reports, plus more than $350,000 in legal services from San Jose law firm McManis Faulkner. The separate "No Recall" campaign, recently formed by a group of Perksy's local supporters, raised about $137,400 in the first four months of 2018, plus close to $100,000 to date this year from a single individual for consulting, advertising and other services, according to finance reports.

Perksy's career on the bench

Persky, a graduate of Stanford University and Berkeley Law, was a criminal prosecutor in the the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office before he was appointed to the bench by then-governor Gray Davis in 2003. His time on the bench has been varied, from overseeing general misdemeanors and drug court to family court and civil trials. From 2003 until 2008, he worked as a criminal judge before moving to a three-year assignment in family court. In 2011 he moved to civil trials and then probate court.

He arrived in Palo Alto in January 2015 to hear criminal cases, the same month that Turner was arrested for sexual assault. After an onslaught of criticism for his decision in that case, including jurors reportedly refusing to serve on a separate trial in his courtroom, Persky requested to be reassigned to civil cases in August 2016.

Persky estimated that he presided over at least 1,000 cases during his time in Palo Alto, with about 30 cases on different calendars for drug or sexual offenses, for example, rotating every few weeks.

Persky is now working from home as a night judge, a position he volunteered for due to the climate around the recall campaign. Five days a week, he is on call from 5 p.m. on Sunday until the next morning at 8 a.m., signing off on search warrants, emergency protective orders in domestic violence cases and other late-night requests.

Persky's sentencing philosophy

Persky described his sentencing philosophy for first-time offenders as bending toward rehabilitation, within the rule of law.

"Having been a DA and then having been a judge for a while and seen a number of criminal cases, you get to the point where you think, 'OK, how do we stop this person from coming back?' because you see violations of probation and you just see people coming back over and over and over again," Persky said.

The campaign to unseat the judge has laid bare a vexing question on the distinction between public opinion and community values and whether judges should be responsive to the latter. Persky argues there is no difference.

He pointed to Judge Loren McMaster, a Sacramento judge who faced a recall effort in 2004 for upholding two laws that allowed domestic partners the same rights under marriage as a man and a woman. "Community values" at the time, Persky said, "were 61 percent against same-sex marriage," referring to the passage of a proposition banning same-sex marriages.

"If you intuitively are attracted to the position that the judges in our county should reflect the community values of our county -- said in a general way like that, that sounds like a reasonable proposition," he said. "But then you put yourself in the position of a judge who has to divine the community values and is also subject to the canons of judicial ethics, which say public opinion can play no part in your consideration."

While community values influence legislation at the highest levels -- when the Supreme Court, for example, gave same-sex couples the right to marry in 2015 -- Persky said they have no place in the local trial courts of Santa Clara County.

"That corrupts the rule of law, to require a judge to take the temperature of the community," he said.

During Tuesday's press conference, he argued that in the "age of social media," judges no longer are working to ignore the "crocodile in the bathtub," as a California Supreme Court justice once said, but the "dragon" of public opinion and politics.

"It's our job as judges and justices to ignore the dragon," he said.

Persky's supporters have argued that in several of the sentences cited by the recall campaign, he properly applied the law and followed the recommendations of the Santa Clara County Probation Department.

In fact, Persky told the Weekly, the leeway that a judge has in sentencing is not large. The vast majority of cases in the criminal justice system are resolved through plea bargains between the prosecution and defense as they negotiate a plea to a lesser or fewer charges. Judges are "supposed to respect that bargaining process," Persky said, and it's rare for a judge to object to a plea deal on his or her own accord. He recalled three times he knew of that happening during his years as a deputy district attorney and judge in Santa Clara County.

In other cases, when a defendant asks for an open plea, without any promises as to the sentencing he or she will receive, the judge relies on limited information sources to render a decision, Persky said. Without a police report, which under state penal code section 1204.5 judges cannot read without permission from the defendant, or evidence from a trial, Persky said judges lean most heavily on the "presumably neutral" probation department, whose full reports for sex crimes typically include interviews with the defendant and victim, the results of a risk assessment of the perpetrator and a description of the case drawn from the police report.

In these cases, judges "rely on what's told to us in the pre-plea phase by the attorneys and in the post-plea phase by the attorneys and the probation department," Persky said. Judges may "tweak" the probation department's sentencing recommendation if something "seems amiss" but otherwise, "in the vast majority of the cases I and other judges follow those sentencing recommendations."

Judges have the most sentencing discretion in jury trials, he said, when they have heard the full scope of the evidence.

"That's really the true measure of the judge's discretion: post-jury trial," Persky said.

At the press conference, Persky said he doesn't worry that the recall -- which he said has a "very real chance" at success -- will lead to a rash of judicial recalls.

"It's much more subtle and I believe much more insidious than that," he said. "The judicial recall, if successful, will be a silent force, a silent corrupting force, a force that will enter the minds of judges as they contemplate difficult decisions, a force that will enter the minds of individual litigants when they step into the courtroom, wondering, 'Can that judge withstand the challenge?'"

If voters approve the recall, Persky will be replaced by one of two candidates who are also on the June 5 ballot: Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson or civil attorney Angela Storey.

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Comments

6 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2018 at 10:30 am

[Post removed.]


76 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2018 at 10:42 am

Thank you Palo Alto Weekly for a fair and honest story about Judge Persky. Letters and comments from lawyers who have presented cases before him consistently describe him as thoughtful, hardworking, and fair. The caricature of him that the recall campaign has put forth is one designed to serve their agenda but has no basis in fact. Unfortunately, it flourished because they knew that he is bound by judicial ethics from speaking about his cases, but they are not bound by any ethical rules at all.


35 people like this
Posted by almunday
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 10:52 am

Just wonder if the criminal was a low income person with no records have been given
the same sentencing. we will never know will we.


78 people like this
Posted by Crindy
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2018 at 10:55 am

Judge Persky was exercising his judicial discretion. A judge should not have to test the winds of public opinion prior to sentencing. Judges should be accountable to the law, not public opinion. It is understandable that one might not agree with his decision, but Recall is too extreme of a measure to take.


36 people like this
Posted by Paul H. Goldstein
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 8, 2018 at 10:55 am

@Carol: No basis in fact? Please review this page from the Persky recall campaign.

Web Link

It would be interesting to know if Judge Persky was just as lenient with non-athlete minority defendants who were convicted of sex crimes in his courtroom. Does anyone have relevant research?


80 people like this
Posted by Resounding NO vote
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2018 at 11:02 am

I will not support the Trump-like practices of demonizing someone because they don't fit the way you think. Though I disagree with the severity of the sentence in this case, I support an independent judiciary and I oppose this recall.

Now it's time for the majority who did not sign the petition to make their voice known. I for one, cannot wait.


38 people like this
Posted by watching from afar
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 11:04 am

Weekly,

Excellent, detailed reporting.

One thing worth adding is that the petition that supposedly started this off with its one million signatures did not seek Judge Persky's recall:

"****PLEASE NOTE: This Petition is an effort to force Impeachment hearings for Judge Perksy By the California Assembly. It is not a recall effort.******" Web Link

That petition was peppered with fiction throughout so shouldn't have held much weight.

It called Turner's "a rape case" despite his not being tried for that crime.

It made Turner out to be heartless saying that he had "shown no remorse" when he had expressed remorse during interviews and the legal proceedings.

It said that the judge failed to send the "message that sexual assault is against the law" even though Turner was found guilty on all 3 counts that the DA brought against him, Turner served time in jail, Turner is under strict court supervision for 3 years and will be sent back to jail if he strays, and Turner is now a "registered sex offender" for life.

Maria Ruiz's publicist Sharika Soal knew petitions needed emotional outrage hooks to get traction. Those few hooks did the trick. Their petition got the media attention they had hoped for as did they. Web Link


79 people like this
Posted by Marcia Sterling
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 8, 2018 at 11:15 am

I oppose this recall effort and all emotion-driven campaigns to try cases of law in the media. We have adopted a careful law-based judicial system for good reasons. Throwing court decisions into the arena of public opinion may suit your politics in one case, but could easily cut the other way in the next. Do we really want to make our judges fear for their jobs if they are too lenient? Aren't our prisons full enough? And who do you think will really suffer if judges are made subject to public scorn for being too lenient?


37 people like this
Posted by James Hall
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2018 at 11:31 am

It seems clear to me that Judge Persky will likely be a victim in this activity after all. That's his own problem of course. But think of the damage to our legal system. The next time some really emotional case comes by forth will the great number of righteous critics be ready to roll again? I would not look forward to being on a jury faced with this kind of visceral anger, much less a Judge. Remember the case in San Jose in the 30's when a "perp" was dragged from jail by a maddened crowd and hung in St James Park?
We should hope that rehabilitation should take precedence over pure punishment. I think Turner has been punished for life; he would only go to prison now and emerge in some years as an even more damaged person. To say that poor people are not receiving equal "justice" is really a silly argument by those beating this particular drum. If true then they are entitled to much better help, rather than the other way around. The sponsoring law professor at Stanford of this circus should leave academia and go out and experience some real life in the law.


50 people like this
Posted by Carol
a resident of Mountain View
on May 8, 2018 at 11:34 am

@PaulGoldstein: Surely you understand that the recall campaign's website is highly skewed? That it misrepresents the cases they carefully cherry-picked and strategically left out pertinent information to make voters think the worst? That they use quotes from a variety of people who in actuality oppose the recall (the Hon. Ladoris Cordell, Hon. Ron del Pozzo, and DA Jeff Rosen, as well as the LA Times)? If their cause is so noble, why so much duplicity?

A democracy requires informed voters who will take the time to research all sides of the issues at hand. Recall supporters who cite only the recall campaign website are not doing their due diligence.


68 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2018 at 11:43 am

Novelera is a registered user.

I am sick to death of the "precedent" argument. The judges that defend Persky all come up with how awful it would be if judges had to face the public. This doesn't happen every day. It resulted from an egregiously awful sentence for a student at a university of which Persky is an alumnus and was also a student athlete. At the very least he should have recused himself instead of giving that bad joke of a sentence.

As a voter I plan to vote for his recall. And I think that saying it "sets a precedent" is a specious argument.

I received a mailer from the recall campaign in which Ro Khanna and Pat Burt were listed as supporters. This is fine company to be with.


38 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2018 at 11:49 am

Novelera is a registered user.

@Resounding No vote: Since you brought up Trump to demonize the Recall Persky campaign, you might be interested to know that some lawyers who worked for Trump in Arizona are the ones who are representing Persky.

Web Link


22 people like this
Posted by watching from afar
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 11:53 am

Also worth mentioning is that the "thousands of complaints" that the Palo Alto Weekly mentions were orchestrated by two East Coast groups:

GRLCVLT, an underground feminist society in New York
and
Ultraviolet, an online 1 million member activist group based in DC

Like Ruiz/Soal, both of these groups told several tall tales.

Their letters and petitions were addressed to the California Commission on Judicial Performance in San Francisco asking it to look into Judge Persky's record.

As the Palo Alto Weekly reports, the Commission did and, in a 12 page report, "ruled that the judge did not abuse his authority nor exhibit bias in the Turner sentencing or in five other cases that the recall campaign asserts show a 'pattern' of bias." Web Link

GRLCVLT: Web Link
Ultraviolet Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2018 at 11:56 am

Novelera is a registered user.

@watching from afar. Wow, imagine that! Not only a feminist group but an "underground" one.


57 people like this
Posted by Judges are already elected
a resident of College Terrace
on May 8, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Persky is an elected official. It doesn't threaten "the rule of law" to vote against him in an election. That's just silly. I'm going to consider the facts and make a decision just like any other election.


57 people like this
Posted by Stanford Alum
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Do you want to live in a society ruled by law or by public emotion and vigilantism?

I strongly oppose this recall effort and will show up to vote just for this issue:

- Persky’s sentence was consistent with the recommendation in the probation report. California law *requires* judges to consider rehab and probation for first-time offenders.
- CA’s *official judicial ethics commission* investigated this case and rejected claims of bias (cjp.ca.gov). Is there something the recall campaign happens to know that this commission overlooked?
- I want to live in a community that does not want to fill prisons, and that treats offenders with compassion and opportunities for rehab.
- Judges should not be swayed by public outrage or by the Twitter mobs.
- Turner is branded a sex offender for the rest of his life. How is that having gotten off easy?
- The recall and anti-Turner campaigns has been filled with fallacies, conflation, and misleading rhetoric. (No, Turner was not tried for “rape.” No, there would have been nothing remarkable -- unfortunately -- about this college drunkenness incident if the Stanford law prof hadn't been a family friend of Doe and taken up the cause. I’m self-censoring other examples since they have been censored by the editors of this forum in the past.)


24 people like this
Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 12:57 pm

@alumday - If the criminal and the victim were low income people and the crime happened off campus we would not be having this conversation. Where is the outrage when a crime like this is committed in EPA?


53 people like this
Posted by ExpectMore
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Persky a victim? Oh please... There are plenty of "emotionally laden" criminal cases that have not received the urgent, national attention that the Turner case brought forth - for good reason.

Afar: The "remorse" that Turner expressed was more along the lines of regret - for himself. He showed no true self-reflection, remorse, or compassion for the victim, and he later tried unsuccessfully to appeal his sexual assault conviction. Clearly you/your perspective are part of the problem.

Previously, "In 2015, Persky delayed sentencing for University of Hawaii football player Ikaika Gunderson so he could continue to play football. Gunderson pleaded no contest to a felony count of domestic violence for beating and choking his ex-girlfriend. The conviction carried up to four years in state prison, but Persky offered to lower Gunderson’s charge to a misdemeanor if he completed a year-long domestic violence program. Months later, Gunderson was arrested on another domestic-violence charge." (Web Link)

More here: Web Link

Disturbing details about Persky's history of bias, along with other errors and omissions from the Persky Report, can be found here:
Web Link

I support rehabilitation, restitution, and restorative justice over incarceration, as well, but there was nothing in the sentencing toward those ends. Our community deserves better than this, and we need judges (and citizenry) who can be self-reflective to their own biases.


12 people like this
Posted by SOBRIETY FOR ALL
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Not voting for the recall, enough taxpayer money has been spent on this and Turner is a branded a sex offender for life, his life is ruined, maybe he should spend his life in solitary confinement at San Quentin? [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm

[Post removed.]


90 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm

No to vote for Persky's recall would be being a puppet to the old-boys network of coming down hard on regular people, but quietly letting the monied class skate by or avoid justice. The judiciary needs to have some modicum of responsibility to uphold community values. The judge brought this one himself for being too outrageous, and other judges with the same mindset are trying to tell us it would be the downfall of Western Civilization if a judge should have to answer to the "rabble" for his abuse of the system. Nonsense, vote this out, put all of them on notice they are being watched and will be noticed if they have patterns of abuse or favoritism. Show them they are defining "rabble" all wrong. The rabble are those that show favoritism to a certain class in a justice system that is supposed to treat everyone equally.

And, let's stop all these blame the victim implications. Can we get to a point where people do not even bother to try to float the blame the victim meme? That might be a measure of progress right there.

Get this judge out!


12 people like this
Posted by watching from afar
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 1:58 pm

ExpectMore,

You are spinning or misinformed.

Turner's appeal is still pending.

Here is some of what Brock Turner said in court: "I can never forgive myself" and "I'm so sorry for every moment and span of time that this event has had on [Emily Doe] and her family's life. I want to express that I'm sorry for everything I have caused upon [her].


82 people like this
Posted by Another
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Another is a registered user.

Opponents of the recall say that recalling Persky would undermine our legal system by weakening “judicial independence”, the notion that judges should be allowed to render decisions independently and free of political concerns.

However, our legal system also depends on another principle: that the guilty will receive punishment. By giving shockingly lenient sentences to convicted rapists and sex offenders, Persky has repeatedly abused his power to determine these punishments.

I don’t know what goes on in his head, but for some reason, Persky seems to have a soft spot in his heart for these athletes and violent young men who have inflicted violence and sexual assaults on women.

Our justice system does not work if the guilty are not punished. We cannot have judges, because of whatever weird personal biases they might have, let violent rapists go free and rape again. This is not a hard decision to make. Persky has proven that he cannot carry out justice and that he doesn’t deserve to hold on to his job. I will be voting to recall him.


53 people like this
Posted by Lies exaggerations and over-emotion
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2018 at 2:07 pm

I'm so voting no.


7 people like this
Posted by Not PC
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 3:02 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


5 people like this
Posted by SOBRIETY FOR ALL
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2018 at 3:07 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


45 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2018 at 3:18 pm

@Stanford Alum. Well, it's interesting to hear that, despite your apparently fine education, you would NOT have voted about anything else on the ballot. But you will show up to vote no on Persky recall.

I did NOT go to Stanford, but I have never missed an election in my entire life, local or otherwise. And I will be delighted to vote for the Persky recall.


24 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2018 at 3:49 pm

A LOCAL JUDGE ADDRESSING MY SENIOR'S GROUP STATED THAT HE HAD ONLY DEVIATED FROM THE PROBATION REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS ONLY TWICE IN ALL HIS TIME AS A JUDGE.....

I do not care for the [portion removed] mentality that often figures in emotional cases.
The voters should be supportive of judges who follow customary procedures and do not let themselves be influenced by the understandable emotions in controversial cases.
The behavior of Persky should be supported not condemned.

[Portion removed.]


47 people like this
Posted by Such a waste of resources
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 8, 2018 at 4:47 pm

I am voting "No" on the recall of Judge Persky.

My primary objection to the recall is judicial independence. Our nation of laws will slowly reach the same point of gridlock and polarization that we see in Congress if this Persky recall is successful. Think about every single legal right that you cherish, and then reflect upon the fact that establishing that freedom probably began when some judge made a brave judicial decision, one that they knew would be unpopular but legally was the right thing to do. In the near future, if a judge rules to allow abortion, uphold sensible gun safety, order gerrymandered voting districts redrawn, or overturns an anti-religious travel ban, should that judge have to fear recall? NO! Is judicial recall the decline of Western Civilization? Not right away, but it will get us there faster.

Did anybody here sit through the entire Turner trial and have access to every single document? I doubt it. Certainly not anybody that is leading the recall movement. Judge Persky was one of perhaps three or four people that had access to every scrap of evidence and testimony. Here in the Bay Area, having Stanford undergrad, Boalt Law, and athletic pursuits listed on your resume seems like something we normally encourage, but with Aaron Persky, all of a sudden those accomplishments are characterized by the recall rabble as scarlet letters of shame, misogyny, old-boy network, and white privilege. Having his decision questioned by people upset by the outcome is misguided. Don't like the law? Change the law (oh, it was, through the efforts of D.A. Jeff Rosen-- after the trial). Don't like the sentence? It was entirely permissible.

Speaking of the sentence, victim "Emily Doe" herself, when interviewed for the probation report said: "I want [Brock Turner] to be punished, but as a human, I just want him to get better. I don't want him to feel like his life is over and I don't want him to rot away in jail, he doesn't need to be behind bars." You don't see the recall proponents quoting this statement from the victim, do you? No. Well, research this for yourself: this victim's quote is on page five of the probation officer's report.

The recall campaign has been fueled by misrepresentations, hyperbole, and misstatement. For a long time, every breathless social media post and newspaper article called Turner's crime "rape." Well, it wasn't rape. However you feel about the severity of sexual assault, the laws of California at that time made a very clear distinction between rape and sexual assault. I'm sorry you are unhappy with that, but blame for that should be focused on the state legislature.

Who is behind the recall? The Palo Alto Daily Post wrote an article on May 5 about a couple of ladies who are large backers of the recall; you may read that archived article to gauge for yourself their objectivity. The non-local, not-so-secret, self-described "secret feminist" group GRLCVLT, has held fund-raising events for the anti-Pesky movement. Stanford Professor Michele Landis Dauber is leading the recall charge; while she is on the faculty of Stanford Law School, I can not find any record of her being an actual attorney. Perhaps there is something else motivating her.

Please take a holistic view of the recall movement against Judge Persky. Do your own research (think objectively, read court documents and look at material that may be opposed to your current view). If you can bifurcate in your mind judicial independence from the Brock Turner case, I am confident that you too will vote "NO."


3 people like this
Posted by What the hell
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2018 at 4:53 pm

[Post removed.]


63 people like this
Posted by Mom of 2
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 8, 2018 at 4:54 pm

As a mom of 2 college going daughters, I am voting yes! Put yourselves in the shoes of a girl who was violated while all the boy’s dad said was he was just being a boy and this judge is lenient because of the boy’s stellar resume???? This judge does not deserve any objectivity or dignity - he was neither objective or dignified in his handling of Emily Doe case! He symbolizes everything wrong with our society!


24 people like this
Posted by Crindy
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2018 at 5:22 pm

It is very sad that an honorable judge like Persky is being considered for a Recall. Judge Persky has an outstanding record of defending the rights of minorities and women. He received a Civil Rights Leadership award for work on hate crimes given by the CA Assoc of Human Relations Organizations. He received a Pro Bono award for his work for the poor by the CA Bar Association. He served on the Executive Committee of the Support Network for Battered Women. He served on the CA Network for a Hate Free Community. In his position as Santa Clara DA, he prosecuted violent sex crimes and hate crimes. This certainly does not sound like a judge who should be recalled. Even the DA who prosecuted Brock Turner does not support the misdirected Recall effort. Get the facts - and you will be against this Recall. [Portion removed.] The Recall is hurting an intelligent and compassionate Judge who has done nothing wrong. Stand behind Judge Persky!


14 people like this
Posted by Interpretation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2018 at 6:51 pm

I am upset to be put in this position as a faithful voter. The result of this election will be used as a bludgeon in inappropriate ways regardless of what happens. I wish the people who were putting all these resources and energy into going after Persky had put them into real reform of the judiciary, or better information about judges' records for elections. I want to support the victim but am inclined to vote No now. Who is going to know how to interpret my intention?

I wish I could vote down the choice in the first place.


20 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2018 at 7:59 pm

I oppose the recall. The sentence was well within guidelines for the charges. [Portion removed.] Turner was very wrong & did something awful. His punishment will far outlast any imprisonment. [Portion removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Sarastar
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 8, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Most people view "attorneys" as dishonest. Yet, when an attorney puts on a black robe we are supposed to call them "your honor." I served on the California Superior Court's Panels of Forensic Experts for 10 years, was Court appointed to over 500 criminal cases. Yet, I discovered that some of the worst criminals were sitting on the bench, wearing a black robe. I also discovered that these judges will secretly meet with a favored attorney who has a case before his court; and then there are the secret phone calls between judges and attorneys with cases before that judge; and the parties and lunches and so on where judges can discuss cases with attorneys or special interests representing wealthy plaintiffs or defendants; and then there are the speaking engagements and travel and gifts to the "family" of the judge; and lets not forget that these judges got elected to the bench because some very powerful special interests backed them, and who, of course, expect favors.

Judges are tools of the rich and powerful; and that's the way its been for all of time. Those who have the money, can buy their judge and their justice. Those without money end up in jail. Justice in America comes with a price.

Perksy did what most judges do: he favors those with money.

[Portion removed.]





42 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2018 at 6:55 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Our society must be protected from bad judges. Persky is an awful judge who makes women less safe by being extra lenient toward sexual offenders, especially when they are athletes, his record speaks for itself. He has shown shameful insensivity and indifference to the victims of sexual assault. The fact the old boy network has been circling the wagon is actually an additional strong reason to vote YES on the recall.

It is no surprise at all that Persky [portion removed] hired Trump's Arizona campaign manager to run his campaign against recall. This should tell us what he really thinks of women.

[Portion removed.] I believe he will be recalled by a comfortable margin, and our society would be better off without this horrible judge.


21 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2018 at 8:16 am

I am neither a Persky troll or a Trump person. I am a person opposed to this recall and preferring to live in a society that cherishes judicial independence over the court of public opinion is the reason.

To all who support the recall, please at least take the time to read the facts about Persky and his record. One source is www.NoRecall2018.org. The crusade against Persky has artfully spun a false narrative about him and his record that, If believed, could well result in a recall that will prove detrimental to our judicial system. It is critically important for reasons unrelated to the Turner case that this not happen.

We are supposedly a nation that believes in rehabilitation of criminals. I question our commitment to that and ask if we don't in fact prefer punishment alone. Only the jail instead of prison part of the Turner sentence was lenient. Being required to register as a sex offender for life is a forever sentence. There is nothing lenient about that.


3 people like this
Posted by Trump exercises discretion
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2018 at 8:48 am

Donald Trump exercises discretion - as do all of us. The question is what kind of person we want in positions of power with important decisions to make. It is not true that the public has no legitimate business questioning the exercise of discretion by judges. That conduct nexessarily occurs in cases. If Judge Persky had the discretion to thank a rapist for his fine efforts and to dismiss the case against him because rape is great, voters would and should remove the judge from office. But that is not what hapoened in the few cases cited or otherwise reported. Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell has said that no judge now in office would have sentenced Brock Turner to prison (before it became mandatory by a change in state law). Some proponents of the recall wamt to make an example of Judge Persky. Not an illegitimate objective. But I am not convinced that is the right vote. It just is not shown that this judge - a former prosecutor - was ever unduly soft on crime or Stanford students (who do have pkenty to lose). Punishment is not just abour a computation of time in some facility. The Attorney General of New York just lost his lofty career. Rightly so. And maybe he will be prosecuted for something. But the effect of charges and cases and convictions on the particular culprit is properly considered. Sentencing is partly about the crime(s) and the victim(s) but mostly about the defendant.


11 people like this
Posted by Maurucio is wrong
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2018 at 8:57 am

Maurucio- fyi. The pro recall people are using a Republican operative to run their ad campaign. Read about the ad she is running in today's daily post. [Portion removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by RM
a resident of Monroe Park
on May 9, 2018 at 9:12 am

@almunday, Paul H. Goldstein We do know how Persky treated minority non-prvileged people. See Web Link

But he could related to a white male Stanford student. So he let him off.

Let's get rid of him.


18 people like this
Posted by Persky = Trump
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 9, 2018 at 9:58 am

Annette, it's great to know that you are not a Trump person. Unfortunately Persky is. He hired Trump's Arizona state director to run his campaign. Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Maurucio is wrong
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2018 at 10:03 am

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2018 at 12:01 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Persky as a judge is part of the ruling class(yes, we are very much a class oriven society)that includes also lawyers, politicians, financiers and robber barons who have nothing but disdain for the unwashed masses. The public has a right, and a duty, to remove any of them they are removable when they become a danger to society. Persky has shown unprecedented leniency toward sexual offenders, especially when they happen to be white athletes. It is not only our right, it is our duty to remove him using the democratic process.

[Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Annette is a registered user.

It was mentioned above that Persky hired a Trump campaign manager to run his campaign. So far I have not seen any smear tactics from Persky's campaign.

The same cannot be said of the Recall group. The mailer that arrived in my post today is nothing short of offensive. It claims that Persky showed bias towards defendant Chain, a white plumber accused of possessing child pornography. It also claimed that Persky promised to reduce Chain's charge to a misdemeanor. Both claims are a perversion of the truth. The Recall campaign seeks to mislead. If they had evidence of a pattern of bias, they'd use it and it would be unassailable. They do not have that evidence because it does not exist. Please, people, set emotion aside and read the facts before casting a vote that risks repercussions well beyond the removal of a single judge.


29 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

In 2015 Judge Persky allowed a college football player, Ikaika Gunderson, who was convicted of felony domestic violence for severely beating and choking his ex-girlfriend and pushing her out of a car, to leave the state to play for the University of Hawaii without notifying the state of Hawaii. Judge Persky did not place Gunderson on probation and he was completely unsupervised. Judge Persky also offered to reduce Mr. Gunderson’s felony to a misdemeanor after a year of football if he completed a domestic violence class and went to some AA meetings.

The pattern of coddling jocks and letting them get away with violeence against women is clear and irrefutable. The recall campaign has nothing to do with judicial independence, it's about removing a person who is morally unqualified to be a judge.


5 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Mauricio: what is your source of information? As I understand the Gunderson case, the information you state as facts is incorrect. Tonight I shall do more homework on this. Taking out a judge is serious business. It is not enough for information to be used to fit a narrative; information used to discredit a judge must be accurate.


8 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Excerpt from page 9 of the Commission on Judicial Performance Investigation of Judge Persky:

"In Gunderson, the judge accepted the defendant’s guilty plea in May 2015, pursuant to a negotiated agreement between the defense and the prosecution. The judge’s deferral of sentencing, and the judge’s indication that he would allow a reduction of the felony charge to a misdemeanor charge at sentencing if the defendant complied with the plea conditions, were both part of the agreement. On March 10, 2016, after Gunderson failed to comply with the conditions of the plea, the judge sentenced the defendant on the felony charge. The sentence imposed aligned with the recommendation of the probation department."

Just as the State changed the law regarding sentencing, maybe the State needs to look at plea agreements and other aspects of our judicial process. No one is claiming that our system is perfect, but I doubt any of us would swap what we have for that of another country's. Improving the process and laws makes much more sense than recalling a judge who has in fact consistently followed the law. Even a well informed public will not be as familiar with legal details and nuances and procedures as practitioners and judges.


20 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2018 at 6:13 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The commission on judicial performance is a discredited body with a bad record and zero credibility, nothing but a old boy network circling the wagon and protecting a club member and one of their own. Basing your position on that useless group? Seriously?


16 people like this
Posted by NancyJ
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2018 at 7:36 pm

NancyJ is a registered user.

The Commission on Judicial Performance has 11 members. 6 of them are lay members, not attorneys or judges. So no, not protecting one of their own.


42 people like this
Posted by get the facts
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2018 at 8:12 pm

get the facts is a registered user.

Mauricio's information is that put out by the recall organization. There's nothing new there.

It's amusing that he's attempting to cherry pick data going back through the whole history of all the cases that the judge has presided over to justify his position when he knows the only state's independent organization in the state has done the investigation and found absolutely no evidence of bias.

He really has a weak position and is trying to bolster it without providing any context and making outlandish statements saying they are "irrefutable". Seriously, he should be trying to argue for a recall on its merits and not trying to obfuscate.


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

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