CA Judge Could Face Recall Election Over Sex Term

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A campaign to recall California judge Aaron Persky for his handling of a sexual-assault case involving a Stanford University swimmer could be headed for a June ballot, reports the Wall Street Journal. Backers submitted nearly 95,000 signatures last week seeking the recall of Persky, a former prosecutor who has been on the bench since 2003. In 2016, the judge sentenced swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, a punishment critics considered too lenient. Turner had faced a maximum of 14 years in prison, and prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence.

Elizabeth Pipkin, an attorney for Persky, said that the recall campaign doesn’t comply with the California constitution. The judge switched to overseeing civil cases in 2016 at his request. A judicial disciplinary panel found no grounds to sanction Persky. If about two-thirds of the collected signatures clear a verification process, a vote seeking to remove and replace the judge could occur as soon as June 5. The last successful attempt to recall a judge occurred in 1977 in Wisconsin, said Joshua Spivak, an expert on recall elections at Wagner College. In California, no judges have been recalled since 1932. Persky has said he “always tries to be fair and follow the law without regard to public opinion,” and that judges must consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders, even if it’s not always popular.

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