Judge Aaron Persky, who infamously sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months out of a maximum 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the Stanford campus in 2015, has become the first judge since 1932 to be recalled by California voters. The decision on Tuesday to pull Persky from his seat on the California Superior Court is being heralded as a victory for the #MeToo movement. And it wouldn’t have happened at all without the efforts of Stanford law professor Michele Dauber.
Dauber launched the Recall Judge Aaron Persky campaign in mid-2016, shortly after a jury found Turner guilty of three felony sex crimes and Judge Persky issued his controversial sentence — a sentence that, Dauber would later tell San Francisco Magazine, was “more appropriate to shoplifting” than the severity of the charges at hand.
“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said at the time of sentencing, a rationale that suggested he believed Turner’s feelings were more important than those of the woman he violently attacked.
As Dauber told San Francisco Magazine, she believed that Persky had “failed in his duty to express opprobrium” in his sentencing of Brock Turner.
“There was not even a moment when he said, ‘You did a terrible thing, and that’s why you’re being punished,’” said Dauber. “He looked at Mr. Turner and he saw what he wanted to see, not what was before him. He failed, even to that extent. “
The Persky decision marks the first time since 1977 that any US judge has been recalled from office.
Early Wednesday morning, Dauber tweeted, “Two years ago I was on CNN and @JeffreyToobin said that while he thought Persky deserved to be recalled, the effort “would fail” because we would never be able to sustain voter interest and attention. But nevertheless, we persisted. Perhaps Jeff should invite me back now #metoo”
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty)