About Time: Judge In Stanford Sexual Assault Case Will No Longer Hear Criminal Cases

FINALLY, Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, who gave at least two offenders extremely light sentences for sexual crimes, will no longer hear criminal court cases. Persky’s request that he be assigned to civil court was approved by the county’s Presiding Judge Rise Pinchon.

Persky grabbed national headlines from the Brock Allen Turner sexual assault case on the Stanford campus. Just after 1 a.m. on January 18, Swedish doctoral students Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson were riding their bicycles on the campus. They saw Turner on top of a woman on the ground behind a dumpster. Turner, a star swimmer for Stanford and who had Olympic aspirations, was seen “aggressively thrusting his hips into her,” the graduate students told authorities. When the two men asked Turner what he was doing he began running.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, Persky gave Turner a slap on the wrist sentence of six months in county jail.

Prior to the Turner trial, Persky gave another bewildering easy sentence. The judge sentenced 48-year-old Robert James Chain to just four days in jail after he pleaded guilty to possessing child abuse images. Chain was busted for several pornographic photos and videos, including one photo of an adult man “penetrating a naked infant girl.”

Pichon issued a statement on Persky’s reassignment:

“While I firmly believe in Judge Persky’s ability to serve in his current assignment, he has requested to be assigned to the civil division, in which he previously served. Judge Persky believes the change will aid the public and the court by reducing the distractions that threaten to interfere with his ability to effectively discharge the duties of his current criminal assignment.”

Persky will start in his new role starting on September 6. However, the role may not be permanent and he is subject to an annual review.

Michele Dauber, head of The Recall Judge Persky Campaign, said the group will proceed with the recall election to have Persky removed.

“We are relieved that Judge Persky will not be handling criminal cases, at least temporarily. However, he will still be a judge, and judges rotate annually in our county. He can still transfer back to hearing criminal cases any time he chooses,” she said in a statement.

“The issue of his judicial bias in favor of privileged defendants in sex crimes and domestic violence still must be addressed by the voters of Santa Clara County. Furthermore, judicial bias is just as serious regardless of whether a case is civil or criminal. Many issues affecting women are heard in civil court every day.”

“Justice must be blind to the hardness or softness of a man’s hands, as well as to the leanness or fatness of his pocketbook.” – B.C. Forbes