On Monday, the state agency that oversees judicial discipline in California ruled that Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky did not commit misconduct, and found no evidence that he displayed bias when he handed down what was perceived by his critics as a lenient sentencing against a Stanford swimmer convicted of rape.
“The commission has concluded that there is not clear and convincing evidence of bias, abuse of authority, or other basis to conclude that Judge Persky engaged in judicial misconduct warranting discipline,” the 11-member California Commission on Judicial Performance concluded, according to the Associated Press.
Brock Turner, 21, was charged with three felony sexual assault counts and released from jail in September after serving three months (he had originally been sentenced to six). Turner will be placed on probation for three years in his home state of Ohio and is registered as a sex offender. The original recommendation had been that Turner serve at least two years. However, citing his clean record, youth and remorse for his actions, Judge Persky departed from that tougher sentencing.
This past August, Judge Persky had voluntarily asked to be moved from hearing criminal cases in Palo Alto to hearing civil cases and as of September 6 has been serving in that capacity in the Old Courthouse near St. James Park in downtown San Jose.
Judge Rise Pichon, who acts as the presiding judge, honored Persky’s request, although she issued a statement indicating her belief that he was perfectly able to continue hearing criminal cases.
“While I firmly believe in Judge Persky’s ability to serve in his current assignment, he has requested to be assigned to the civil division, in which he previously served,” Pichon said. “Judge Persky believes the change will aid the public and the court by reducing the distractions that threaten to interfere with his ability to effectively discharge the duties of his current criminal assignment.”
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