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California recalls judge for first time in 80 years

07 June 2018

The Californian residents of Santa Clara County have voted to recall Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky -  the first time the state has removed a judge in this way in 80 years

It is the result of a two-year initiative to recall him from the Superior Court, which started three years ago after he presided over the sexual assault trial of Brock Turner.

Turner, a Stanford University student at the time, was convicted of three out of the five felony sexual assault charges laid against him in 2015 after he assaulted an unconscious woman.

Court prosecutors argued for a minimum seven-year prison sentence for Turner but Judge Persky handed down a six-month jail sentence, three years’ probation, and ordered Turner be placed on the country’s National Sex Offenders Register.

The sentence was viewed by many as light for a felony charge with multiple counts. This feeling only intensified after Turner was released three months into his sentence.

Not long after these events, an online petition was established to force impeachment hearings for Persky and an official Recall Judge Aaron Persky campaign was established that alleged he favoured defendants in sexual assault cases.

To initiate a recall process in the US, a Notice of Intent petition must be circulated and has to receive a minimum of 20% of signatures from registered voters in the region to then move it on to the state-wide primary election ballot.

The criteria was met and the vote to recall was included on the 2018 Judicial ballot.

The Santa Clara County residents are voting in six state and federal elections this week and the votes counted in the Judicial recall vote are 40.20% against and 59.80% in favour of recalling the judge.

At the same time, the county is also voting for his successor and, while votes are still being counted, it appears he will be succeeded by former public prosecutor and civil trial attorney, Cindy Hendrickson.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019