Op-Ed: Campaign to Recall Judge Persky Resorts to Inflammatory Rhetoric, Misleading Tactics

Over the past several weeks, my Facebook feed and home mailbox have been bombarded by propaganda from the campaign to recall Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who presided over the trial of Brock Turner.  

As the June 5 election approaches and the inflammatory, incomplete information continues to proliferate, I can’t bite my lip any longer. I must speak out to counter, correct and call out the ugly tactics and misleading propaganda of the recall mob.

The Sentence

The recall campaign consistently emphasizes that Judge Persky sentenced Turner to only six months in jail, calling it a “slap on the wrist.” The message sent by the recall proponents suggests that Turner, after serving his jail sentence, was free to live his life normally and unfettered.

The campaign purposefully and deceptively neglects to inform the public that the sentence was much more severe than meets the eye. Turner was placed on formal, felony probation and can still be sentenced to up to 14 years in state prison If he violates his probation by failing to comply or by committing a new crime.

Turner is now a convicted felon, a branding he cannot shake for the remainder of his being that will impact his ability to attend school or attain employment. He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and could be convicted of new crimes if he fails to do so. He suffered multiple “strikes” on his record, subjecting him to California’s so-called Three Strikes law if ever accused of crimes in the future.

Did Turner only get six months in jail? Hardly. He got a life sentence.

Probation Had a Say

Another ad notes that “everyone but Judge Persky thinks that sexual assault deserves a very serious punishment.” Again, this argument incorrectly presumes that the life altering sentence imposed by Judge Persky upon Turner was not serious.

More than that, this propaganda fails to mention that the Santa Clara County Probation Department submitted a probation report recommending to the Judge that, based on all of the circumstances and factors of the case, Turner receive a county jail sentence along with probation supervision.

Judge Persky fairly applied those factors and rendered a reasonable, thoughtful sentence within the confines of the law and endorsed by the the probation department.

The System Worked

The recall campaign also contends that Judge Persky’s sentence of Turner will deter sexual assault victims from reporting and will not deter potential offenders from perpetrating sex crimes. The Turner case did not promote or perpetuate rape culture; instead, it exemplified how our seriously our system treats sexual assault claims.

Turner’s case wasn’t dismissed nor was he given some lenient plea bargain. He was arrested, charged, tried and convicted for his sexual assault of the victim. He suffered and continues to suffer severe consequences.

The victim had her voice heard, first by police, then at trial by the jury and at sentencing by the Judge and community. No future, potential sexual assault assailant will be emboldened by the case or sentence and no victim will be deterred from reporting because of the outcome. Such claims are baseless and without merit.

Incomplete, Misleading Rhetoric

Other pro-recall ads and material point out that Judge Persky sentenced a man convicted of felony child pornography possession to four days in jail in an effort to establish a pattern of leniency or inappropriate decisions by Judge Persky.

They again failed to mention that man had plead guilty to the charge and also received three years probation and a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.

Another instance of misinformation by the recall proponents and another example of perpetuating the mass incarceration mentality of incarceration equaling justice.

Judge Persky ≠ Donald Trump

Finally, a recent mailer I received from the recall proponents posits a photo of Judge Persky next to a photo of Donald Trump because Persky apparently hired a political consultant who worked as the Arizona state director for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Despite no indication that Persky is connected to or aligned with Donald Trump personally or politically, the recall advocates purposefully use the overwhelming anti-Trump furor in Santa Clara County to support their cause, an ugly, childish and misleading tactic.

Because they have no credible, reliable evidence or bonafide arguments to support their attempt to recall a reputable jurist from the bench, the recall campaign resorts to inflammatory, deceptive ploys to further their agenda.

Don’t fall for it. Vote NO on the recall of Judge Aaron Persky.

Sajid Khan is a public defender in Santa Clara County, the author of Closing Arguments, a blog focused on criminal law and social justice, and one half of the podcast Aider & Abettor. Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Want to submit an op-ed? Email pitches to [email protected]

36 Comments

  1. Well, the Recall Persky people who fell in love with Caserta, is paying John Stallman, who along with Jude Barry, sent out mailers in Santa Clara that were racist.

    For the record, I feel Persky did not do a good job with Brock Turner and did let a rapist go free.

    • No matter what side you favor, there is widespread doubt that the long, extraordinary “victim statement” was written by the victim. Many feel it was penned, at least in part, by none other then Michelle Dauber (friend of the victim). Perhaps the only way to prove this is a recording of the victim acknowledging it, but if it is true, it’s lights out for Dauber’s credibility, campaign, and frankly…her career.

  2. What impresses me most in the recall debate are the people who have written in letters to local papers to say “I was initially for the recall, but then I learned the facts…” I never hear it the other way. This speaks volumes, I think. It illustrates that the two sides are operating on different levels – the recall side is pushing spin, misrepresentations and fanning the flames of emotion, whereas the no-recall side has facts. Persky’s supporters have convincing rebuttals to the recall campaign’s numerous claims – see NoRecall2018.org

    I will be voting NO.

  3. An excellent brief, Mr. Khan. Although a bit too temperate and restrained for my liking.

    I prefer intemperate and inflammatory when dealing with amoral lizards and reptiles.

    But the fact of the matter is, your approach will likely be more influential with voters than mine.

      • > He’s a public defender, you’re a Trumpnik. How do you expect the same tone?

        I’m a Trumpnik only because I was tricked by Russian bots manipulating me on Facebook and Twitter.

        The Russkies never told me what kind of tone I was supposed to have. You apparently know. Did the Russian bots tell you?

        • Now that’s more like it. Sarcasm is a tone that is good if you want to stay consistent. (I know, I know, “it’s irony, not sarcasm,” etc.) Otherwise look to the baboon you voted for. He’ll set the tone for you.

          • > Otherwise look to the baboon you voted for. He’ll set the tone for you.

            What?! The Russkies tricked me into voting for a baboon?

            I really am a victim!

            We need a Special Council to investigate this!!!

            OBAMA KNEW!! WHY DID OBAMA LET THE RUSSKIES MAKE ME VOTE FOR A BABOON!

  4. “Turner was placed on formal, felony probation and can still be sentenced to up to 14 years in state prison If he violates his probation by failing to comply or by committing a new crime”

    You mean like if he rapes again now that he’s freely moving about society? Great plan.

    • > You mean like if he rapes again now that he’s freely moving about society? Great plan.

      Teddy:

      Not Judge Persky’s “Great plan”; it’s the sentencing guidelines’ “Great plan”.

      Would you and Michele prefer that judges ignore sentencing guidelines and just wing it and do what seems like a good idea at the time?

      By the way, has Michele been fired by Stanford Law School yet?

      Why not? What’s taking so long?

      • It’s Ted or Theodore if you must. Bully nicknames – smeeeeh – childish and unoriginal.

        Per the sentencing guidelines – they are just that guidelines. Judges are expected to use their professional and independent judgement in each case. That is the point of the criticism about a ridiculously light sentence for an un-remorseful, entitled, family supporting, rapist.

        I don’t know if he is still a lecturer at Stanford or when he last taught – go look it up yourself – I’m not your 4th grade teacher here to do your research.

        • I asked:

          > Would you and Michele prefer that judges ignore sentencing guidelines and just wing it and do what seems like a good idea at the time?

          Ted or Theodore answered:

          > – they are just that guidelines. Judges are expected to use their professional and independent judgement in each case.

          YIKES! Ted or Theodore DOES want to see judges wing it!

          It’s much worse than I thought. The Michele Dauber/Stanford Law School/progressive woman-tribe REALLY IS OPPOSED TO THE RULE OF LAW!

  5. I’d also like to thank Sajid Khan for pointing out that Judge Persky has nothing to do with Trump. This inflammatory tactic is ridiculous. In fact, I think the leader of this recall effort, Michele Dauber, is the one behaving like Trump, what with her inflammatory tweets, her attacks on the judiciary, and her reliance on spin and misinformation.

    • Turner was NOT a rapist! This is an all-too-common misperception! That’s why he was not charged with rape! His crime was ‘digital penetration’ – as part of foreplay, with the ‘victim’s’ consent, he says…he did not kidnap an unconscious woman from a fraternity party; she left with him on her own two feet, to go to his room for sex! And she has no memory of what happened – she was in an alcoholic blackout! (How traumatized can she be when she has no memories of the incident?!!) This was hook-up culture, not rape culture!

      As for the Victim Impact Statement: you are right, it was not written by the victim – nor is there any legal requirement that it be written by the victim. Where are the investigative journalists asking this question? Where are the editors insisting that it not be attributed to ‘the victim’ without proof that she wrote it? Rumor has it that it was written by a professional rape victim advocate…some years ago, juries were not allowed to hear Victim Impact Statements, because it has been proven that they cause juries to make decisions based on emotions rather than facts. However, the ‘tough on crime’ folks got them reinstated. There is NOTHING progressive about the Recall effort! It is downright Trump-like, as some here have pointed out!
      As far as hiring a Trump operative: find out who the Recall people have hired!

      This all reminds me way too much of how Michael Dukakis lost to Bush 41 due to the misdeeds of Willy Horton! Who got onto the Supreme Ct as a result of that Republican victory? David Souter and CLARENCE THOMAS, woo-hoo!!

  6. Khan says that there is “no indication that Persky is connected to or aligned with Donald Trump personally or politically.”

    But in fact, Persky hired Brian Seitchik, Trump’s Arizona state director, to run his campaign. In addition to have run Trump’s Arizona campaign in 2016, Seitchik has a history of anti-woman, anti-immigrant politics. That information is taken directly from the mail piece that Khan is complaining about, and is also easily found by Google.

    Rather than address that connection directly, Khan conceals it in order to bolster his argument that the recall campaign has somehow constructed a connection where there isn’t one. It’s ironic that Khan ends his op-ed with a complaint about “misinformation” when his argument depends on exactly that.

    Here’s two questions for Mr. Khan: why didn’t you mention the actual Trump connection, and why would any voter in Santa Clara County vote for an elected official who hired Trump’s Arizona state director to run his campaign? I suspect that the answer to my first question is pretty clear from the answer to the second: they wouldn’t.

    • > But in fact, Persky hired Brian Seitchik, Trump’s Arizona state director, to run his campaign.

      So, Dotty, THIS is your case for voting for the recall of Judge Persky? Trump hatred?

      “Two Minutes Hate”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Minutes_Hate

      To quote former President Obama: “We’re better than that.”

      • Easy Bubble. In your excitement and pro-Trump frenzy, you are making the case that the anti-recall campaign is on the same side as Trump. Not helping. Stop commenting for a while.

  7. Yes, one reason to recall Judge Persky is that he has aligned himself with President Trump’s campaign against women. The fact that he hired a senior Trump campaign official to run his campaign says a lot about Persky’s values.

    I suspect that Khan knows that Persky’s Trump connection won’t play well with Santa Clara County voters, which is why his op-ed denies that it exists.

    • Persky has never aligned himself with Trump or his political views. In fact, he served on the board of the Support Network for Battered Women and received recognition for his work on hate crimes. You are making connections that have no basis in fact. Hiring a campaign consultant is just that – hiring someone to manage a campaign. I believe Mr. Seitchik ran a campaign for an anti-Trump Republican before his Arizona stint. And from what I understand, Dauber and her team put the word out to Democratic operatives to refuse to help Persky. As another commenter put it before, do you ask your plumber what his political opinions are, or do you hire them to do a job? As it is, it’s the recall campaign side that seems to be the one putting out deceptive messages and fanning the flames of fear and anger.

      • That’s a silly analogy, which I’m sure is why Khan didn’t even try to make it. I don’t ask my plumber her political opinions because it’s not relevant to plumbing.

        The fact that Persky is comfortable with a Trump operative running his campaign tells me that he’s comfortable with the anti-woman, anti-immigrant positions that Seitchik has taken on Trump’s behalf, and on the behalf of other Republicans in Arizona.

        Unless you want to tell me that Seitchik is just doing some plumbing around Persky’s house. Otherwise, Khan’s outraged pose about the Trump connection, while not mentioning the fact that Persky’s campaign manager’s last job was running the Trump campaign in Arizona, is just a transparent attempt to mislead his readers.

    • > he has aligned himself with President Trump’s campaign against women.

      So, has the behavior of progressive Democrats — like you — who have “aligned” themselves with Dominica Caserta’s and Harvey Weinstein’s campaigns against women reason to vote against Democrats?

      I think so.

    • Oh Dotty,
      By the way great name for a Democrat.
      I’m absolutely sure you and the rest of the barking sea lions, would be clapping your flippers and standing on your heads if the victim’s name was Trump in this case, and voting for Pesky to move up the the Supreme court.
      There is no “Trump war on Women” but there sure a hell is a “Democrat war on Republican and Trump women” as we have seen this week, and it’s been shameful.
      This week I’ve seen you pukes spin like a bunch Oklahoma tornados, Hillary lost get over it!

  8. “No future, potential sexual assault assailant will be emboldened by the case or sentence and no victim will be deterred from reporting because of the outcome. Such claims are baseless and without merit.”

    i guess it’s not baseless or meritless when it’s your opinion, ya? 🙄

    here’s an actually quantifiable question: does ANYONE who’s suffered thru sexual abuse themselves think Turner got an appropriate sentence??

    • Actually, yes. Meaghan Ybos, a rape survivor, wrote an article explaining why she believes Turner’s sentence was a success story.

      • thank you for bringing this up. i read it, and there are parts i agree with, especially here: “Instead, we should demand that judges use discretion more broadly and in favor of people from all backgrounds.”
        so now im curious about persky’s overall sentencing history… i wanna know exactly how far he’s extended that leniency to poor, black, + brown ppl for nonviolent offenses.

        • I don’t think anyone has culled that information together, but this article https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/06/16/could-removing-brock-turner-s-judge-hurt-poor-and-minority-defendants featured this:

          “(Sajid) Khan points out that Persky’s reputation among public defenders (a group closely attuned to racial inequities in the courtroom) is that of a fair-minded jurist. “No one has been able to cite an example so far of him where a similarly situated minority client has been treated harshly by him,” Khan said.”

        • Also, Barbara Muller, Deputy Alternate Defender for Santa Clara County, said this of Judge Persky:

          “He has considered mitigation in cases of mine where my clients are minorities, indigent, and suffer from mental illness or substance abuse and has given them probation — a chance to rehabilitate and prove to the court that they can straighten up. My clients are all indigent and most of them are non-white and I have never seen him treat my clients differently than those clients who can afford private attorneys.”

          (From her testimonial on the NoRecall2018 website)

  9. Persky deserves to be recalled. Additionally, he deserves a good, savage, and public ass-kicking. It would be great justice to see the old muddlehead put on public display in the Santa Clare town square.

    • > Additionally, he deserves a good, savage, and public ass-kicking.

      And the ass-kicking would be done be savages, right?

      Mr. Barough’s message brought to you by Michele Landis Dauber, Frederick I. Richman Professor of Law, Stanford Law School, and by the leaders and faculty of Stanford Law School, and by the Board of Overseers, alumni, and donors of Stanford University.

    • JB.
      I could say the same of the governor and most of the states elected officials for dumping sanctuary state and city laws upon the citizens of California, and creating America’s largest crime zone.

  10. > Michele Landis Dauber, Frederick I. Richman Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

    Stanford Law School and Stanford University are meddling in a local election.

    Stanford should have it’s education tax status revoked, and pay the same taxes as any donor to a political campaign. Stanford should also be investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for compliance with campaign financing laws.

    • JB.
      I think Public Ass Kicking “PAK” was outlawed by the Geneva Convention along with waterboarding.
      So you could be hauled of to the Haig and tried for thought crimes if you were not protected by the
      “Bill of Rights” and Donald Trump!

  11. No matter what side you favor, there is widespread doubt that the long, extraordinary “victim statement” was written by the victim. Many feel it was penned, at least in part, by none other then Michelle Dauber (friend of the victim). Perhaps the only way to prove this is a recording of the victim acknowledging it, but if it is true, it’s lights out for Dauber’s credibility, campaign, and frankly…her career.

  12. If it comes out that Dauber wrote some or all of the victim statement (her friend is the victim), she needs to come clean and retire. In this case, her side owes the trusting public an apology.

  13. I know right from wrong, the judge does not. I know a rapist is walking free, pretty much able to do what he wants. I’m sure mommy and daddy will get him a job where his felony will be hidden and go through life as though nothing happened. He should sign in as a sex offender and all the other things (which are a slap on the wrist) the judge sentenced him to. What’s missing was jail time and that’s where he dodged the bullet.

    • > I know right from wrong, the judge does not.

      In the simple, primitive world of tribal hunter-gatherers, everyone did everything: hunting, cooking, judging, philosophizing, crafting legislation. In away, everyone was their own dictator.

      In modern, complex societies based on rule of law, police arrest, prosecutors prosecute, legislators write sentencing guidelines, judges judge, probation departments recommend sentences, voters decide right and wrong, and internet bloggers explain what sentencing recommendations judges SHOULD NOT have believed.

      I think modern progressives liked primitive better.

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