Success! California Voters Recalled Brock Turner Judge Aaron Persky

Following two years of activism, California voters have recalled Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, the judge responsible for the notoriously lenient sentence in the Brock Turner rape case.

Aaron Persky infamously gave convicted rapist Brock Turner only a six-month jail sentence, of which he served only three months. Turner was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

Persky expressed sympathy for Turner, the rapist, saying: “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”

“I think he will not be a danger to others,” said Persky, despite Turner’s conviction of a heinous crime, which somehow did not imply that he was dangerous.

Prosecutors asked for a six-year sentence; the maximum was 14 years.

Following Persky’s decision, Valerie Janovic started a Care2 petition calling for his removal from the bench.

“Justice was not served because Judge Persky wasn’t willing to punish a convicted rapist,” Janovic said in the petition. “Judge Persky is clearly not a competent judge, and we demand the recall of his seat.”

Over 145,000 people sided with Janovic and signed the petition.

The Brock Turner case is not the only one in which Persky showed leniency toward privileged white men accused of sexual assault or violence against women.

In 2015, then 21-year-old Ikaika Gunderson confessed to beating and choking his ex-girlfriend. Instead of giving him up to four years in prison, Persky delayed sentencing for over a year so that Gunderson could play football at the University of Hawaii. It was an unusual decision, to say the least, and may have even violated federal law.

Also in 2015, Persky sentenced Robert Chain, who was convicted of felony child pornography, to only four days in jail.

These are just a few examples of cases in which Judge Persky went out of his way to make life easier for people convicted of sexual or domestic violence.

Michele Dauber, Stanford Law School professor and family friend of the victim, led the recall campaign against Persky.

“Judge Persky has a history of what we regard as bias in cases of sexual assault, sexual violence, violence against women,” Dauber told Vox, “particularly where the perpetrator is an athlete or otherwise privileged in some way.”

With two-thirds of precincts reporting, news broke on June 6 that 59 percent of Santa Clara County voters voted in favor of recalling the judge. Voters elected Cindy Hendrickson, a prosecutor, to replace him.

Critics of the recall are concerned that if judges fear a recall because of light sentences, they’ll be motivated to hand out harsher ones. While mass incarceration is a problem in the United States, the fear of recall doesn’t seem a likely motivation for strict sentences. Persky is the first judge in the U.S. to be recalled by voters since 1977 and the first in California since 1932.

Persky stands by his ruling, even once comparing the criticism he’s faced to the backlash against the judges who decided Brown v. Board of Education.

Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? Create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youíll find Care2ís vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for this post

Elaine W
Elaine W9 months ago

The honorable and correct thing happened here. I am glad that signing the petition helped :)

Olivia M
Past Member 10 months ago

Thank you

Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H10 months ago

good news

Jennifer H
Jennifer H10 months ago

At last some good news on Persky.

Patty Langford
Patty Langford10 months ago

happy to hear persky is no longer on the bench. thank you for the update!

Thomas M
Past Member 10 months ago

thanks for the update

Gene J
Gene J10 months ago

Well, justice is finally served. For the would be judge anyway.

Amanda McConnell
Amanda McConnell10 months ago


Amanda McConnell
Amanda McConnell10 months ago