BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Two well-respected Bay Area lawyers, neither of which are connected with the attempt to recall or retain Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, went toe to toe last night debating the merits of the recall.
Speaking in support of the recall was Stanford Professor Mark Lemley, who specializes in intellectual property law and computer law, while Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky spoke against the recall. Chemerinsky said this recall would harm the judiciary’s independence and cause more judges to hand down the harshest sentence possible in fear of being recalled.
“Like a crocodile in your bathtub, every judge is aware of the recall against Aaron Persky,” Chemerinsky said.
But later in the debate, Lemley made the statement that judges would know that this recall is an unusual event based on Judge Persky’s alleged history of repeatedly letting wife beaters and sexual predators off the hook.
Pattern of bias alleged
Lemley pointed to six cases — including the Brock Turner case — where Persky ruled in favor of the defendant in the case instead of the victims. This, Lemley argued, showed bias against battered and sexually assaulted women, and in particular women of color, who make up the majority of the victims that the cases cited.
Additionally, the defendants in four of the cases Lemley brought up are also athletes — Turner, a Stanford swimmer, Ikaika Gunderson, a football player convicted for felony domestic violence, De Anza College baseball players accused of gang rape and Keenan Smith, another football player convicted of domestic violence. Lemley pointed out when Persky went to Stanford, he was also an athlete.
But Chemerinsky said Lemley and the recall campaign are cherry picking six cases out of Persky’s 15-year career as a judge. During that time he has handled more than 2,000 cases. Chemerinsky also said by recalling Persky judges will constantly be looking over their shoulder and handing down harsher sentences, which will likely affect Latinos and African American defendants more than white defendants.
Stanford Law students submitted questions for Chemerinsky and Lemley, and one question asked how Persky’s record holds up against other judges, but neither could answer the question, since there isn’t any database for comparing rulings made by different judges.