The now yearlong effort to recall Santa Clara County Superior Court judge Aaron Persky, known nationally for the lenient six-month sentence he handed to the literal poster child for college sexual assault Brock Turner, is officially underway. (Turner served only three months of that sentence, further angering recall advocates). NBC Bay Area reports that the Recall Judge Aaron Persky campaign filed their petition Monday morning at the San Jose Registrar of Voters, a petition that still needs some administrative review before the group can start collecting signatures.
Persky, who was reelected in 2016 because he ran unopposed, has already been disqualified from hearing another sexual assault case before being reassigned from criminal to civil court (at his own request) last summer.
"[Brock] Turner lied in court and never expressed remorse," the notice of intent says, according to Bay City News. "Santa Clara County residents deserve a judge who will protect victims, not rapists."
You’d be forgiven for not knowing the process of recalling a judge in California. As CBS 5 notes, there have only been two recalls of elected California judges in 1913 and 1932.
Basically, it’s still early in the campaign. Since recall papers have just been filed, Santa Clara County officials have to approve the petition. Once they do, organizers have 160 days to collect the required 58,634 signatures. (They say they’re shooting for 90,000 signatures.) If recall organizers get the requisite number of valid signatures, Persky’s removal will go before Santa Clara voters on the June 2018 ballot.
Notably, the recall effort was partially funded by a $25,000 donation from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who wrote on Medium that Turner’s “woefully unjust sentence sends a powerful message about how our culture systematically discounts and excuses sexual violence against women. To counteract that message, we must send equally powerful messages that signal our demand for reform.”
The Brock Turner affair is not the only occasion on which Judge Persky was seen as curiously lenient in assault cases. Last August, Persky allowed another Stanford student to avoid jail for a domestic assault charge so the kid could play football in Hawaii. At the time, the recall effort’s chairperson Michele Dauber protested that Persky “clearly has some bias in the area of college athletes.”