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Judge Aaron Persky to Move to Civil Court, but Activists Want Him Gone for Real

Judge Aaron Persky moved from criminal to civil court at his own request. We talked to the activists leading his recall campaign, who are still not satisfied.
Image via screengrab / HLN

Judge Aaron Persky, who made headlines earlier this year by giving Stanford rapist Brock Turner a controversial six-month jail sentence, has been moved from criminal to civil court at his own request. But the campaign aiming for a recall that would move him off the bench entirely has no plans of slowing down.

Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor at the helm of the campaign, points out that Persky's reassignment is by no means permanent. California judges rotate annually, and Dauber tells Broadly that Persky could be placed back in criminal court as early as January of 2017.


"The evidence that we brought forward of his record—some of it is truly disturbing," says Dauber. "He has a long standing pattern, we believe, of bias particularly in cases of sex crimes, domestic violence, and violence against women."

Read more: Stanford Judge Allowed Sexy Photos in Court to Disprove Plaintiff's PTSD

"One of the most alarming instances was actually when he was in civil court back in 2011," she says, referring to the gang rape case that involved baseball players at De Anza College. "The last time he was in civil court, he presided over a civil case brought forward by a 17-year-old girl who said that she was gang raped while unconscious. There were even witnesses in this case, members of the women's soccer team who saw what was happening and broke down the door and called 911. The victim sued civilly, and Persky made a series of rulings that the lawyers have said publicly were biased. In light of the Brock Turner case, it's clear that it's the same kind of bias. He allowed the defense to present photos of her in a revealing Halloween costume from a Halloween party, taken more than a year after the assault, where she was drinking alcoholic, to prove that since she was at the party she didn't have PTSD."

Dauber says the intention of the photo in the gang rape case was "far more prejudicial than probative." She believes that similar instances could still occur with Persky working in civil court.

"The job of the civil judge is to preside fairly and to arrive at compensation for the victim for their injury," says Dauber. "[Persky] is a judge who does not understand or believe in that injury, so the last thing we want him doing is presiding over cases where there is a question of PTSD. And, for example, you wouldn't want Aaron Persky to be judge in the case against Bill Cosby."

That's why Dauber says that though the campaigners are relieved, they are still moving forward with the campaign for a recall election.

"There are all kinds of civil cases that affect women. Those victims also deserve an unbiased decision-maker."

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