Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, the embattled judge whose controversial sentencing of former Stanford University student Brock Turner made waves across the globe last year, has received a high-profile endorsement in his fight to retain his seat on the bench from the county's district attorney, Jeff Rosen.
Rosen tops a partial list of endorsements posted on Persky's official retain campaign website, launched in response to a high-profile recall campaign working to unseat him. He has also been endorsed by California law school deans, law professors, retired Supreme Court justices, presiding and retired Court of Appeals justices, dozens of sitting judges, public defenders, attorneys. Two former district attorneys, Dolores Carr and George Kennedy, have also endorsed Persky, according to the list.
Stanford law professor and Palo Alto resident Michele Dauber started the recall effort in the wake of Persky's sentencing decision in the Turner case — six months in county jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the Stanford campus in 2015.
While Rosen has criticized the sentencing itself, he has previously said that he "had the legal right to give it" and should not be removed from the bench.
A spokesperson for the district attorney's office declined an interview request. In a statement provided to the Weekly, Rosen said his "allegiance" is to Emily Doe, the young woman who was assaulted by Turner, and all victims of campus sexual assault.
"My office and I have worked to raise national awareness by organizing a campus sexual assault symposium, crafting a ground-breaking protocol on how colleges and law enforcement handle such assaults, and changing state law to ensure that future perpetrators are sentenced to prison," he said in the statement. "The legacy of Emily Doe's courage is fewer sexual assault victims and more compassion for sexual assault survivors."
His office declined to comment further.
In a statement, Dauber pointed to a decision Rosen made the week after the Turner sentencing to disqualify Persky from hearing an unrelated sexual-assault case, stating at the time that "we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing."
The next month, Persky requested to be reassigned to civil cases in the San Jose courthouse, where he now presides.
"Would DA Rosen welcome Judge Persky back to criminal court after Rosen disqualified him from presiding over a sexual assault case?" Dauber asked. "I strongly suspect that the answer is 'no.'
"But matters involving sexual assault and domestic abuse are heard in civil, family and juvenile court all the time," she continued. "Victims in those courts also deserve a judge who can be unbiased and fair in their cases."
The Recall Persky campaign's website has its own partial list of high-profile endorsements, including Congress members, Bay Area elected officials, the National Organization for Women, activists, law professors and others.
The campaign recently decided to delay placing the recall on the ballot until next summer due to the high cost of mounting a special election this November.
Cindy Hendrickson, an assistant district attorney on District Attorney Jeff Rosen’s executive team, confirmed to the Weekly Monday that she plans to run for Persky's seat.
"The people of Santa Clara County should get to decide whether Judge Persky continues to serve them as a Superior Court Judge for the next five years," she wrote in an email. "The people have a meaningful choice only if there is a qualified candidate in the alternative."
The Palo Alto Weekly has a Storify page that captures ongoing coverage of the Brock Turner case and related issues, including the recall campaign. To view it, go to storify.com/paloaltoweekly.