Law professor leading judge recall isn’t an attorney

Michele Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber and Judge Aaron Persky

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Critics of the movement to oust Judge Aaron Persky from the Santa Clara County Superior Court have raised concerns about the fact that the Stanford law professor leading the recall movement, Michele Dauber, has never been licensed to practice law.

“Frankly, I think it’s something that ought to be considered when people look at what her position is in the recall, as with anyone who is taking a position in the recall,” Santa Clara County Bar Association CEO Chris Burdick told the Post. “An academic understanding is different than if you’ve had practice experience.”

The county bar association opposes the recall campaign. But Burdick pointed out that doesn’t mean the association supports the six-month county jail sentence Persky gave Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted in 2016 of sexual penetration with a foreign object and sexual assault with intent to commit rape.

Cordell cites Dauber’s inexperience

Former Palo Alto Judge LaDoris Cordell, an outspoken opponent of the recall campaign, brought up Dauber’s lack of a bar membership on the CNN show “Smerconish” on Saturday.

“The Turner case is about criminal law. She has no experience in that area of the law, so she repeatedly says things that are inaccurate, incomplete and misleading,” Cordell told the Post yesterday. “This information about her lack of legal acumen is crucial to her credibility when talking about the Turner case.”

But Dauber said Cordell’s claims are meant to distract from the real issues. Most law professors at universities like Stanford don’t practice law, Dauber said.

Dauber graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern Law School in 1998 before clerking for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Academic record

She then had a two-year doctoral fellowship at the American Bar Foundation where she studied the legal profession.

After that, she said she turned down a postdoctoral research position with the Harvard Society of Fellows to join the Stanford faculty as a law professor in 2001. She earned her doctorate in sociology from Northwestern in 2003.

Dauber said she is an expert on the law surrounding campus sexual violence. She teaches two classes on the subject at Stanford and is currently the principal investigator of a large empirical study on the subject.

Changing the subject?

“The Persky campaign keeps trying to change the subject away from Judge Persky’s history of biased decision-making in cases of violence against women,” Dauber told the Post. “Yesterday they were blaming the victim for being intoxicated. Today they are reviewing my resume. But this election is about none of that. It’s about Judge Persky.”

A number of practicing lawyers in the county support the recall. On Oct. 19, Stanford law professor Mark Lemley wrote a letter to the county bar association in support of the campaign.

The letter was co-signed by 21 other practicing lawyers, including Stanford law professor G. Marcus Cole, former Stanford president Donald Kennedy’s wife Robin Kennedy and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte general counsel Catherine Valentine.
The recall campaign turned in more than 95,000 signatures last month to qualify for the June 5 ballot.