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Aaron Persky
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    (1982- )
    Born in Berkeley, California
    Birth name was Michael Aaron Persky
    California Superior Court Judge (2003-18)
    Presided over the sexual assault trial of Brock Turner (2016)
    Removed from office in a recall election (June 5, 2018)
    He sentenced Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, even though the statutory minimum sentence for the crime was two years..
    He said the sentence was based in part of the ‘severe impact’ a longer jail term would have on Turner, leading to complaints that he was not taking into account the severe impact on the victim of Turner’s crime.
    One of the jurors from the Turner case wrote that the sentence had made a ‘mockery’ of the trial.
    In the next criminal trial he was to preside over, at least ten prospective jurors refused to serve, citing the sentence in the Turner trial as a reason.
    Due to the controversy, he requested that he not be assigned to any more criminal cases and was reassigned to the civil division of the California court system.
    While campaigning against the recall vote, he made the tone-deaf argument, ‘Brown v Board of Education [the Supreme Court decision that declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional] was unpopular in many states. Imagine for a moment if those federal judges had been faced with judicial recall in the face of that unpopularity.’
    While in private practice, he was honored by the State Bar of California for his pro bono work for the poor.
    The six month sentence he gave to Turner matched the recommendation of the Santa Clara County Probation Department.
    An investigation by the Associated Press found that in the twenty cases since January, 2015, where Persky had handed down a sentence, he had followed the probation department’s recommendation each time.
    The California Commission on Judicial Performance cleared him of any wrongdoing in the Turner case (December 19, 2016).
    Numerous judges, lawyers, and legal experts – including the prosecutor in the Turner case – opposed his recall, arguing that removing a judge over a single unpopular decision was a threat to an independent judiciary.

Credit: C. Fishel

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