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Petitioning California Commission on Judicial Performance

A Letter in Support of Judge Aaron Persky and Judicial Discretion

The judiciary plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law in our society and constitutional system. Judges have a duty to apply the law to the facts and evidence before them, regardless of public opinion or political pressure. In that role, judges provide an important check against other political forces. If judges had to fear direct, personal repercussions as a result of their decisions in individual cases, the rule of law would suffer. These principles date back to the founding of our nation and are a bedrock of the United States and California Constitutions.

In this case, Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner to a grant of felony probation with six months county jail after a jury convicted Mr. Turner of three sexual assault crimes.  In response to the sentence, there have been several petitions and demands to remove Judge Persky from the bench. We, the undersigned, stand in support of Judge Persky and the exercise of judicial discretion.

After a jury found Mr. Turner guilty, the Santa Clara County Probation Department submitted a probation report along with a recommendation about an appropriate sentence to the Judge.  This report included a summary of the offense, an interview with the victim, an interview and analysis of the offender and then a breakdown of statutory aggravating and mitigating factors and sentencing criteria.  The probation department recommended, based on all of the circumstances and factors of the case, that Mr. Turner receive a county jail sentence along with probation supervision.  Judge Persky applied the applicable laws, reviewed the right circumstances and factors that he was required to review, did not abuse his legal authority and utilized the discretion afforded to him to render a reasonable, fair sentence within the confines of the law and in line with the probation recommendation. 

In view of the importance of judicial discretion, we oppose the present attempts to remove Judge Persky from the bench based on his sentence in the Brock Turner case. We have seen no credible assertions that in issuing the sentence, Judge Persky violated the law or his ethical obligations or acted in bad faith. Nor are we aware of any other complaints or allegations of impropriety against Judge Persky during his 13 years on the bench. Seeking to punish a judge under these circumstances presents a threat to judicial independence.

Moreover, the efforts to remove Judge Persky may have unintended, unfortunate consequences.  Rather than using a robotic, one size fits all punishment scheme, we want judges, like Judge Persky, to engage in thoughtful, case by case, individualized determinations of the appropriate sentence for a particular crime and particular offender.  We want the humanity of all people, regardless of background, to be recognized in sentencing. However, when we as a community reprimand or condemn a judge for engaging in such a holistic analysis and for exercising discretion, such efforts can have a chilling effect on judicial courage and compassion. The punishment or removal of Judge Persky in response to his exercise of discretion could lead to policies that limit that discretion, will deter other judges from extending mercy and instead encourage them to issue unfairly harsh sentences for fear of reprisal.  We fear that this shift will disproportionately impact the underprivileged and minorities in our communities and perpetuate mass incarceration.

For these reasons, we stand in support of Judge Persky and the exercise of judicial discretion.
 

Sincerely,

 Sajid A. Khan, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Jennifer Redding, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Avi Singh, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Laurie Ellen Park, J.D., HR Manager, Samaritan’s Purse, South Sudan

Rachel Marshall, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, Oakland, CA

David Epps, Esq., Alternate Defender, San Jose, CA

Mark Becker, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Patrick Hoopes, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Barney Berkowitz, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Krista Henneman, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Mairead O’Keefe, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Roderick O’Connor, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Gerry Dobbyn, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Casey Clift, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Katarina Pena, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Sonia Smith, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Nick Collins, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

JJ Kapp, Esq., Assistant Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Lori Stuart, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Melissa Wardlaw, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Joseph Clarke, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Jung Le, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Damon Silver, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Anjali Bhargava, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Polina Beckerson, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Mark Dames, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Panteha Saban, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Mary Steel, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Jaime Feder, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Michelle Todus, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Barbara Muller, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Seth Flagsberg, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Sung Lee, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Madelyn Roderigues, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Kipp Davis, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

William Weigel, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Elizabeth Chance, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Jennifer Hultgren, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Nisreen Baroudi, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Daniel Portman, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Beth Kendall, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Bichara Endrawos, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Kristin Carter, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Jessica Delgado, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Juan Lopez, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Matt Wilson, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Michelle Vasquez, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Andrea Randisi, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Irma Gallardo, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Jonathan Mosby, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Miguel Rodriguez, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Emanuella Omori, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Luz Maria Solis, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Fatima Ortiz, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Ralph Benitez, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Lany Or, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Andres DelAlcazar, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Heather Harris, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, Palo Alto, CA

Sarah Wheatley, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Sarah Ruby, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Carlie Ware, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, San Jose, CA

Ed Sousa, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Jennifer Lindstrom, Esq., Cupertino, CA

Kate Raven, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, Oakland, CA

Robin Bannister, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, Victorville, CA

Negad Zaky, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, Sacramento, CA

Cuong Nguyen, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, Santa Clara, CA

Mahira Siddiqui, Esq., San Jose, CA

Zafir Shaiq, Esq., Deputy Public Defender, Oakland, CA

Robert J. Kileen, Jr., Esq., Kileen & Stern, P.C., Houston, TX

Paul Jones, Esq., Corporate Lawyer, Neenah, WI

Rebecca Miller, Partner, Lakin Spears, LLP, Palo Alto, CA

Frank Cole, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Ben Rice, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, Santa Cruz, CA

Adrienne Dell, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Patrick H. Kelly, Esq., Professor, Lincoln Law School, San Jose, CA

Renee Hessling, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Adam F. Shearer, Esq., San Francisco, CA

Jerome Mullins, Esq., San Jose, CA

Geoff Rawlings, Esq., San Jose, CA

Paul Upton, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Tom Ferri, Esq., San Jose, CA

Meredith Fahn, Esq., San Jose, CA

William A. Chestnut, Esq., San Jose, CA

Geoffrey A. Braun, Esq., San Jose, CA

Alex Friedman, Esq., San Jose, CA

Daniel Taylor, Esq., San Jose, CA

Maureen Baldwin, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Kathryn Ross, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Edward Mahler, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Erik S. Johnson, Esq., San Jose, CA

Leonard J. Cravens, Esq., San Jose, CA

Gilda Valeros, Esq., San Jose, CA

Cindy Diamond, Esq., San Jose, CA

Carol Marmorek, Esq., San Jose, CA

Lisa McCamey, Esq., President, Santa Cruz County Criminal Defense Bar, Santa Cruz, CA

Lindsey Dazel, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Frank Z. Leidman, Esq., San Jose, CA

Yoyi Franco, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Dmitry Stadlin, Esq., San Jose, CA

Stuart Kirchick, Esq., San Jose, CA

Sylvia Perez-MacDonald, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney,  San Jose, CA

Ron Rayes, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney, San Jose, CA

Wesley Schroeder, Esq., San Jose, CA

Suzan Yee, Esq., San Jose, CA

Ramin Naderi-Alizadeh, Esq., San Jose, CA

Tom Kelley, Esq., San Jose, CA

Sam J. Polverino, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney,  San Jose, CA

Marion Whittaker, Esq., San Jose, CA

Lindy Hayes, Esq., San Jose, CA

Jay Rorty, Esq., San Jose, CA

Shahla Khan, Esq., San Jose, CA

Allen Schwartz, Esq., San Jose, CA

Aimee E. Buentello, Esq., San Jose, CA

Anne Fields, Private Investigator

James Manganello, Retired Probation Officer

Judith Larsen, Ph.D, Palo Alto, CA

Ariana H. Alejandre, Esq., Fremont, CA

Robert H. Horowitz, Esq., Former Judge of Probate, Los Altos, CA

James Harris, Ph.D., Palo Alto, CA

 

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  • California Commission on Judicial Performance


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