The Stanford Sexual-Assault Judge Is Getting Called Out by Would-Be Jurors

“I can’t believe what you did,” said one prospective juror Thursday.

Judge Aaron PerskyJason Doiy/The Recorder/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last Friday, Judge Aaron Persky sparked outrage when he sentenced Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, to just six months in a county jail. The short sentence angered supporters of the anonymous victim, many of whom were galvanized by a moving letter to Turner that the victim read out loud during his sentencing hearing.

Now, prospective jurors for another trial in California’s Santa Clara County Superior Court are refusing to serve in Persky’s courtroom on an unrelated case, reports the East Bay Times. During jury selection Thursday, at least 10 jurors called out Persky for his sentencing decision.

“I can’t believe what you did,” one prospective juror told the judge. “I can’t be here, I’m so upset,” said another. Persky reportedly thanked the objectors for their service and excused them from jury duty.

Persky, a former sex crimes prosecutor appointed to the bench in 2003, is now facing a recall effort spearheaded by Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor who has long been an advocate for sexual-assault survivors. While Persky has his supporters—mainly public defenders in his county—a Change.org petition to impeach Persky is quickly approaching a million signatures. (On Tuesday, Persky ran unopposed in his primary election.)

In handing down the controversial sentence last week, Persky cited Turner’s age (20) and clean record as “unusual circumstances” that led him to decide against the mandatory sentence of two years in state prison. Persky was following the recommendation of a probation report, which determined that he should serve six months in county jail, plus probation. Turner is expected to serve three months and be released on good behavior.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest