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Persky opponent launches fundraising campaign

Longtime Santa Clara County prosecutor opposes embattled judge

Cindy Hendrickson during an interview when she was supervising deputy district attorney in Palo Alto on Feb. 22, 2012. Photo by Veronica Weber.

The Santa Clara County assistant district attorney running against Judge Aaron Persky in an upcoming recall election has officially started fundraising for her campaign.

Cindy Hendrickson, who was a civil litigator before spending 22 years as a prosecutor, launched an onling CrowdPac campaign this week titled "Cindy Hendrickson Seeks Justice for All in Santa Clara County." She publicly announced her intent to run against Persky this spring.

Since last summer, Persky has been battling a recall effort launched in response to outrage over his sentencing of former Stanford University student Brock Turner for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman on campus in 2015. The recall campaign alleges Persky has shown a pattern of bias against women and defendants of color in other sexual violence cases.

Hendrickson, who currently works on District Attorney Jeff Rosen's executive team, wrote on the fundraising webpage that her candidacy presents an alternative to Persky. She promised to be a "fair, hard-working judge with a continued devotion to all residents of Santa Clara County.

"I have advocated strongly for victims, and I have been equally committed to safeguarding the rights of the accused," Hendrickson wrote. "I grew up in a multi-racial family of 13 that has informed my views on bias of all kinds."

As of Friday afternoon, she had raised $1,685 toward a $15,000 goal.

The webpage details her professional background, from serving as student board president for an organization that provided pro-bono legal assistance to indigent clients during law school to her work on elder abuse, sexual assault and jail reform in Santa Clara County. Hendrickson graduated from Stanford in 1987 and attended the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

Hendrickson first joined the local district attorney's office in 1995. She was named a supervising deputy district attorney in 2011 and became one of Rosen's six assistant district attorneys in 2015.

Hendrickson currently chairs the county's Elder Death Review Team and Domestic Violence Death Review Team, which investigate and review all deaths related to these two crimes that occur in Santa Clara County.

As a prosecutor, Hendrickson said she has "remained vigilant about protecting defendants' rights and the integrity of the criminal justice system. I have a deep understanding of and respect for a prosecutor's obligation to safeguard the rights of suspects and defendants. I will be a judge who recognizes both the value of rehabilitation and the need for incarceration in certain circumstances."

Hendrickson's boss, Rosen, has endorsed Persky. While he publicly criticized the Turner sentencing — and disqualified Persky from hearing an unrelated sexual-assault case a week later — Rosen has previously said the sentence was within Persky's legal right as a judge and is not grounds to remove him from the bench.

Since receiving the green light from a judge in August, the recall campaign has been gathering the signatures required to place the recall measure on the June 2018 ballot.

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