By Dr. Sophia Yen, MD, MPH, Rebeca Armendariz and Jennie Richardson
Last fall, nearly 100,000 Santa Clara County voters signed a petition to put the recall of Judge Persky on the June 5th ballot. We ask you to vote yes.
Persky shocked our community when he sentenced Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. A jury unanimously convicted Turner of three felonies, including assault with intent to rape and sexual penetration of an unconscious and intoxicated person. Turner faced fourteen years in prison — he served 90 days.
After the Turner decision, DA Jeff Rosen removed Persky from another sexual assault case, saying he lacked confidence that Persky could “fairly participate” in a case involving an unconscious victim. Jurors refused to serve in Persky’s courtroom. One juror from the Turner case wrote Persky an open letter saying Turner’s sentence made “a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape.”
As Congressman Ro Khanna said when Turner was sentenced in 2016:
“It sends the wrong message: that if you are from a privileged background, if you are a star athlete, and if you commit your crime on a college campus, then the law does not apply to you.”
For women, Brock Turner’s sentence isn’t just shocking, it’s dangerous. Why would a victim go through the long process of medical examinations and invasive questions if the result is a slap on the wrist?
Sadly, the Turner sentence was not an isolated incident. Persky, a former Stanford athlete, has a pattern of bias favoring athletes and privileged perpetrators of violence against women. Persky adjusted the sentences of two different college football players convicted of domestic violence to accommodate their football schedules.
In another case, Persky sentenced a Sunnyvale man convicted of felony child pornography to only four days in jail. This sentence was set by Persky not the DA. The man, Robert Chain, had dozens of images of little girls, including an infant, being sexually abused. Persky said he would be “receptive” to reducing Chain’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor after only one year of probation — against the probation recommendation.
Even some of Persky’s supporters have criticized his judgment. Former Santa Clara County Judge Ron Del Pozzo called Turner’s six month sentence “inconsistent with the jury’s verdict” and said he expected a four to six year prison sentence based on other similar cases in our county.
That’s why so many elected officials, newspapers such as the Mercury News, and labor and women’s organizations endorse this recall.
This recall will not affect judicial independence. Under the California Constitution, all county judges are elected to six-year terms and are accountable to the people they serve. Persky would next be up for re-election in 2022. The recall simply moved up the date of that election to 2018.
Santa Clara County voters deserve a judge who takes violence against women seriously. Persky doesn’t. He has lost the community’s trust. Please vote YES on June 5.
Yen lives in Los Altos and is an Adolescent Medicine specialist, long time reproductive rights advocate, Founder of the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women, CEO and Co-Founder of Pandiahealth.com, mother of 2 daughters, 15 year resident of Santa Clara County, and Co-Chair of the Committee to Recall Judge Persky
Armendariz lives in Gilroy and is a mother and Political Community Organizer for SEIU-USWW, and Co-Chair of the Committee to Recall Judge Persky
Richardson lives in San Jose and is a Board Member of Women’s March Bay Area and Co-Chair of the Committee to Recall Judge Persky
They submitted this to Santa Clara News Online.