Regarding the Stanford rape case: First, if you haven’t read the victim’s moving and powerful statement, please do so. We would all do well to reflect on her words. What happened to her is absolutely horrible, and I am inspired by her strength in composing this letter and reading it in court.
The case has received considerable attention not just because of the victim’s statement, but also because of the light sentence given to Brock Turner, the perpetrator. He received six months in county jail and probation, along with registering as a lifetime sex offender. There has been a great outcry in response, and a petition to recall Judge Aaron Persky over the ruling.
But I would like to hear people’s responses to this article from a public defender in the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office. Sajid Khan defends the sentence of six months jail and probation as appropriate.
One consequence of the heavy media attention to this case is that more people are talking about sexual assault, which is important. But I am concerned that popular outrage to recall the judge may be misguided. It’s noteworthy that both Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Santa Clara County public defenders Gary Goodman and Molly O’Neal both believe that Judge Persky should not be recalled.
Lastly, there is the question of whether popular control of judges in the form of recalls or judicial elections may actually have a negative effect on judicial independence. Judges may be less willing to exercise discretion, even if the circumstances warrant a more lenient sentence, because of concern of popular backlash.
In the end, it’s unlikely that Judge Persky will be recalled, as the process for a recall is incredibly complex. But I hope that people will continue to engage with issues of sexual assault. Regardless of what happens in this case, we all need to take steps to stop sexual assault, both on our college campuses and in our communities.