I just got an email from MoveOn.org, taking Judge Aaron Persky to task for giving Brock Allen a six month jail sentence in the Stanford rape case, and asking me to sign a petition demanding that the “Committee on Judicial Performance” remove the Judge Persky from the bench:
“Judge Aaron Persky’s failure to hold Brock Turner accountable for the rape and his dismissive comments at sentencing show that he cannot be trusted to dispense justice. He must be removed from the bench immediately.”
While anyone who wants to can post a petition on MoveOn’s website, I’m surprised that MoveOn has inserted themselves into this issue by actively promoting the petition.
The State of California Commission (not Committee) on Judicial Performance has authority only to investigate complaints of judicial misconduct. The petition not only fails to allege judicial misconduct, it fails to even allege judicial error
The petition’s allegation that the Judge failed to hold Brock Turner accountable is wrong on its face. Even the claim about “dismissive comments” is baseless–a casual reading of the Judge’s statements, as reported by legitimate media outlets, reflects his analysis of all the relevant factors as required by California sentencing guidelines.
It seems to come down to a bunch of people who’ve read social media posts on the case, and are outraged because… justice! (Beyond the petition at MoveOn, there’s one at Change.org calling for Judge Persky’s impeachment, and a website advocating his recall.)
What concerns me is that the people pushing for Judge Persky’s removal don’t consider the unintended consequences of that action. How is removing judges for rulings in abortion cases, LGBTQ civil rights cases, or tax cases any different from removing a judge for an unpopular ruling? If victim’s rights advocates can drive a social media campaign to remove a judge they don’t like, what’s to stop abortion foes, religious extremists, or billionaires from doing the same thing?
Over the last week or so, Donald Trump has been widely criticized for his racist attacks on Judge Curiel. Yet, is his demand that Curiel be removed from the Trump U case any different from social media demands that Persky be removed from the bench? Despite the former being blatantly driven by Trump’s personal self-interest, and the latter couched in cries for victim justice, they have the same goal: to subvert the judiciary.
The only important difference between the two is this: Trump’s attack on Judge Curiel has already failed, and backfired against him. The social media attack on Judge Persky may yet succeed, and result in long-term damaging consequences to our justice system.