Other judges are watching the Persky recall campaign, law school dean says

Stanford Law professor Mark Lemley, left, a recall supporter, and Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a recall opponent, debated at Stanford. Post photo by Emily Mibach.
Stanford Law professor Mark Lemley, left, a recall supporter, and Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a recall opponent, debated at Stanford. Post photo 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.

Cherry picking

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.


  1. I would hope that many in the audience of Stanford law students would be able to recognize that most of the cases of “bias” cited by the recall campaign were plea deals, and to use those as evidence against Persky is just insane.

    And how, exactly, did Persky rule in favor of Turner against the victim? Turner was found guilty and sentenced to jail as well as a lifetime on the sex offender registry. Many of the pre-trial motions actually favored the prosecution. There are no complaints whatsoever against Persky for any rulings he made during the trial. The only complaint is with the sentence, and saying he went against the victim because he didn’t give into her demand for denial of probation ignores the fact California strongly encourages a rehabilitative approach to sentencing for first-time offenders. Sentencing is not supposed to be a winner-take-all proposition.

  2. The key question is in the last paragraph: How does Persky’s record stack up against other judges? It would be helpful to know that before we vote. I don’t trust Michele Dauber and would like to have an independent, neutral source tell us how his record compares to others.

  3. Rehabilitation for offenders does not include leniency for privileged offenders convicted of sexual violence. What rehabilitation Brock Turner received out of those three months in jail. Did he receive therapy for his sexual predatory tendencies. As a mental health provider, I am quite concern about this young male engagement in such vicious act. What sexual fun one receives out of sexually assaulting an unconscious person?

  4. What rehabilitation does the man convicted of felony child porn and only receiving four days in jail received. Watching child pornography demonstrates an active pedophile that receives sexual gratification out of the sexual molestation and rape of children including infants. What rehabilitation out of four days in jail? I am not aware of any express psychological treatment to rehabilitate pedophilia in four days!

  5. I am aware and happy these judges are watching. We the people in Santa Clara County will continue watching and protecting our community. Persky, is not the only corrupted judge in this county. I am willing to share my story publicly and provide the name of other corrupted judges. The recall Persky may be after Persky only. I am after all corrupted judiciary and public officials that have or will cause harm to this community.


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