The Brock Turner Case: An Inappropriate Sentence And A Judge Stepping Down

The Brock Turner Case: An Inappropriate Sentence And A Judge Stepping Down

Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault, had taken an intoxicated victim behind a dumpster, stripped her half naked and made her a target of sexual abuse. Initially, he was given a sentence of 14 years imprisonment, but the prosecutor suggested six years instead. However Judge Aaron Persky, ordered six months in county jail to be followed by 3 years probation (actual time served in custody would have been 3 months or less).

According to Judge Persky, a harsher sentence would have had an adverse effect on Turner’s life. The victim wrote a strong letter explicitly describing the impact of the crime on her. Consequently, public outcry over the extremely unjustified leniency led to the movement to recall Judge Persky.

Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced the former Stanford swimmer to only 6 months of imprisonment for assaulting an unconscious woman, has now been ousted from hearing upcoming sexual assault cases. The Santa Carla County Court office confirmed that Persky was not to be made part of a preliminary hearing of a male nurse accused of sexually assaulting a woman. This was done after the District Attorney’s office raised concern on the judge’s ability to be fair.

The accused Brock Turner, who according to state guidelines should have been sentenced to a minimum of 2 years, was sentenced for only 6 months by Judge Persky. Judge Persky was moved by Turner’s remorse for his crime and the character-letters he received by Turner’s friends and family.

An independent judiciary is essential to a constitutional democracy. Judicial independence on one hand and justice and accountability sought by citizens on the other, are two distinct matters. A ruling aloof to the victim’s sufferings and one that grants forfeiture would not survive because of the loss of public confidence.

Turner would have most likely faced serious consequences during imprisonment. However, disregarding the lifelong impact of Turner’s violence on the victim’s life highlighted an abuse of office.

A judge must balance clemency with justice and Judge Persky’s stubbornness regarding the sentence was the real issue. The District Attorney had little confidence in Persky’s ability to participate in preliminary hearings of future cases. Consequently, Judge Persky had been required to step down.


Update: Brock Turner has now been released three months earlier and has only served half of his already reduced sentence.

Judge Persky will no longer hear criminal cases and will switch to civil cases from 6th September, 2016. The campaign to oust Judge Persky will continue to move forward.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any other organization with which she might be associated.

Rameen Moin

Author: Rameen Moin

The writer is an A-Level student at Beaconhouse A-Level Gulberg Campus, Lahore, with keen interest in law. She is also an intern at CourtingTheLaw.