Santa Clara County votes to hold special election to recall judge in Stanford sex assault case

Byby Janine De la Vega KGO logo
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Santa Clara Co. to hold special election to recall Judge Persky
A crowd celebrated Tuesday after the Santa Clara County Supervisors voted to hold a special election to recall Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who sentenced Brock Turner to six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the Stanford campus.

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) -- A judge criticized for handing down a sentence some felt was too lenient to a former Stanford student who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman on campus, will face a recall. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to approve putting the measure on the ballot in June.

Cheers of victory among a group of women were heard in the hallway just outside the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting. They have been fighting to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench.

RELATED: Thousands of new signatures to recall Judge Persky after Brock Turner appeals decision

"Nearly 95,000 voters signed the petition and it's just very clear that the voters of this county have lost confidence in Judge Persky's ability to be fair," said Michelle Dauber, an attorney who has organized a campaign to recall Persky.

Persky sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus in 2015. The sentence made national headlines and sparked outrage with many saying the sentence was too lenient. This morning, many women urged the Board of Supervisors to approve holding a special election to recall Persky.

RELATED: Controversy follows judge in Brock Turner case

"I'm a survivor of violent sexual assault and you're darn right I'm angry," said one woman who took the podium at the Board meeting Tuesday.

The Board put the recall on the ballot. Opponents say it is a threat to the independence of the judiciary. Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell says this will influence judges in regards to what sentences they impose.

"If it succeeds, judges are not going to be willing to exercise to be lenient for fear of being recalled. This is just terrible on so many levels," said Cordell.

TIMELINE: How Brock Turner case ignited debate on sexual assault

It's been more than a year since former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman after a campus party.

Cordell said she would have imposed the same 6 month sentence, possibly 12 months...adding Persky just followed the Probation Officer's recommendation which is something most judges do.

"That's a lawful sentence and absolutely appropriate given the facts of this case but the recall campaign has distorted that, made it very emotional, made it about MeToo and it is not at all," exclaimed Cordell.

Recall supporters said the sentence showed sexual assault victims they won't be treated fairly. Both sides are moving forward and will be educating voters to try to sway them. The recall election will take place on June 5. The county estimates it will cost between $550,000 $1.1 million depending on how many other measures appear on the ballot.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on Brock Turner.