In 2015, a Stanford swimmer named Brock Turner was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a fraternity party. Turner contended that he did not do anything wrong, but he was found guilty. The case attracted widespread attention and made headlines, particularly after Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner to only six months in prison, of which he ended up serving only three months.
The victim, a woman referred to only as Emily Doe, called the short sentence an “insult” and there was nationwide outrage at the judge for it. This prompted a recall campaign and, according to NRP, the judge was ultimately recalled from the bench. It is the first time in 87 years that voters in the area have recalled a judge who was seated after an election.
The case underscores the problem that judges can face if they do not impose a harsh sentence upon anyone who has been accused of a sexually-based offense. But, the issue is, there may sometimes be mitigating circumstances and judges need to have the discretion to address each defendant's individual case without fear that they could find themselves facing a public backlash that results in a recall. If judges are constantly under threat of public action that could take away their job, it could make it impossible for them to impose the sentence they feel is actually appropriate.
Within the current political climate, defendants still have rights and they need to ensure they enforce those rights – especially given that judges may be more stringent out of fear that they too could be subject to a recall. An Albany sex crimes attorney can provide insight into how defendants can fight for their futures.
According to NPR, the campaign to recall Judge Persky was initially started by a Stanford law professor. When interviewed by NRP, she indicated that the “people of Santa Clara County spoke loud and clear against impunity for high-status perpetrators of violence against women.” She also indicated that she believed Judge Persky had a history of giving lenient sentences in similar cases.
Many activists became involved in the campaign to get Persky recalled, particularly after the victim impact statement that was made by Emily Doe was published and went viral.
However, supporters of Judge Persky have raised very serious issues, including claiming that having the judge removed from the bench for exercising his discretion in sentencing will erode judicial independence. There have also been concerns raised that judges will now feel as though they have to impose harsher sentences in sex crimes cases – particularly if those cases are high profile ones – because otherwise they too could end up being subject to a recall campaign.
Because there is a lot of pressure for judges to impose harsh sentences, it is imperative that you are represented by an Albany sex crimes attorney who can provide the help and support you need to aggressively fight for your rights if you have been accused of a sex crime. Contact an attorney today to find out more about the assistance available to you in responding to serious accusations.
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