PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — Thousands of Californians have signed petitions calling for controversial South Bay Judge Aaron Persky to be recalled, but a small, respected group of legal experts says that move would be a big mistake.
There are several movements to remove Persky from the bench after he sentenced Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for a sexual assault on an intoxicated woman on campus.READ MORE: San Francisco Police Preparing to Handle Niner Fan Festivities on Sunday
- DA Refuses To Work With Beleaguered Judge In Stanford Sex Assault Case
- Campaign To Remove Judge In Stanford Rape Case Gains Steam
- Potential Jurors Refuse To Serve Judge In Stanford Sex Assault Case
- Stanford Sex Assailant Lied About Drinking, Doing Drugs
The letter signed by a group of retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judges was released Wednesday.
“We acknowledge and respect the deeply held views of those who disagree with Judge Persky’s sentencing decision in the Turner case,” the letter states.
“At the same time, the full record in the case shows that Judge Persky made his decision after considering all the evidence presented at trial, the statements of the victim and the defendant, and a detailed report from an experienced probation officer,” according to the letter.
Eighteen retired judges signed the letter, which states that the group isn’t taking a side on whether or not the sentence was appropriate.
The letter goes on to say that “judicial independence” would be threatened if Persky were removed from his position.
KPIX 5 legal analyst LaDoris Cordell one of the retired judges who signed the letter saying Persky should keep his job and warning the public of the consequences if they successfully recalled him.READ MORE: IRS Website Will Soon Require Facial Recognition To Log Into Your Account
“The key to a good judiciary system – and we have the best in the world – is our independence,” said Cordell. “The ability for a judge to not look over his or her shoulder before rendering a decision to wonder what the people outside are going to say and whether or not I’m going to lose my job.”
Cordell also expressed concerns about those who are refusing to serve as a juror for the Palo Alto judge.
“I’m very troubled by this. I’m troubled because our jury system is the foundation of our legal system,” said Cordell.
A woman’s activist group who organized the petition says they’ve collected 5,000 signatures.
It’s not clear how many signees are Santa Clara voters.
Cordell said the petition sets a disconcerting precedent.
“What message does this send to potential jurors just around the country,” said Cordell. “So if you decide you want to get out of jury duty, you just say, ‘Oh, I don’t like this judge,’ and that could get you out. And that really shakes the entire jury system and I think in a very bad way.”
Cordell says a judge’s job to decide the fate of someone’s future is not an easy one. And while she may not agree with Persky’s controversial lenient sentence in the Ctanford case, the answer is not to strip him of his duties — or to refuse your civic duty as a juror.
“You don’t take one unpopular decision or controversial decision and decide that that judge can no longer be on the bench,” said Cordell.MORE NEWS: Apple Music Trolls Spotify By Calling Itself 'The Home Of Neil Young' After Streaming Service Pulls Songs
If Judge Persky does get recalled, he still can’t be removed from the bench until his next term begins next year.