Judge Aaron Persky: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Judge Aaron Persky. (perskyforjudge.com)

Judge Aaron Persky. (perskyforjudge.com)

A California judge who was a star athlete at Stanford University is facing calls that he be removed from the bench after he sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman, a punishment many have called too lenient.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Michael Aaron Persky sentenced Turner, 20, last week. He has not commented since the outcry over his decision because Turner is appealing his conviction. Turner was found guilty in March of three felony sexual assault charges and faced up to 14 years in prison.

The district attorney is among those calling the sentence unjust.

“The punishment does not fit the crime,” the District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “The predatory offender has failed to take responsibility, failed to show remorse and failed to tell the truth. The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim’s ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape. And I will prosecute it as such.”

A Change.org petition has been started to call for Persky to be recalled. It has received more than 100,000 signatures.

“Judge Persky allowed the lenient sentence suggested by the probation department. Turner has shown no remorse and plans to attempt to overturn his conviction,” wrote Maria Ruiz, who started the petition. “Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency. He also failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors. Please help rectify this travesty to justice.”

A website, recallaaronpersky.com, has also been launched, and is raising money for the recall fight.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. He Has Come Under Fire for Saying Prison Would Have a ‘Severe Impact’ on Turner

Brock Turner in his mugshot taken when he was booked at the Santa Clara County Jail following his sentencing hearing. (Santa Clara County Jail)

Brock Turner in his mugshot taken when he was booked at the Santa Clara County Jail following his sentencing hearing. (Santa Clara County Jail)

Judge Aaron Persky, 54, has come under fire for saying at Brock Turner’s sentencing, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Persky said he considered Turner’s character, lack of criminal history and remorsefulness when deciding the sentence, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Prosecutors had called for six years in state prison, while a report from the state probation department recommended less than a year in county jail.

Persky said in court that Turner had “poisoned” the lives of those involved, according to the Palo Alto Weekly.

“The question that I have to ask myself is … Is state prison for this defendant an antidote to that poison?” Perksy said. “Is incarceration in prison the right answer for the poisoning of (the woman’s) life?”

The victim, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told Buzzfeed News, “Even if the sentence is light, hopefully this will wake people up. I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire. If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak even louder.”

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said Monday that while he disagrees with the judge’s sentence, he does not think he should be removed from the bench.

“While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “I am so pleased that the victim’s powerful and true statements about the devastation of campus sexual assault are being heard across our nation. She has given voice to thousands of sexual assault survivors.”

Local attorneys called Persky respected and fair.

“He is an absolutely solid and respected judge,” Santa Clara County deputy public defender Gary Goodman told the Associated Press. “Persky made the right decision.”

Criminal defense attorney Barbara Muller, who works two weeks a month in Persky’s court, said he is one of the “fairest judges” in Santa Clara County.

“He considers all facts and is very thorough,” Muller told the AP. “He plays it right down the middle.”

2. He Was the Captain of the Lacrosse Team at Stanford & His Critics Say He Was ‘Persuaded’ by Turner’s Background as an ‘Elite Athlete’

Persky, a San Francisco native, graduated from Stanford University, the same school where Brock Turner was a freshman swimmer when he was arrested in January 2015. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1984 and his master’s degree in 1985.

He was the captain of the lacrosse team at Stanford, according to a 2002 article in the Stanford Daily.

“I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and a Master’s Degree in International Policy Studies. After graduation, I rode my bicycle from Palo Alto to Washington, D.C. to raise money for the Red Cross African Famine Relief Campaign,” he said on his campaign website. “In Washington I worked for the International Trade Administration of the United States Department of Commerce, where I investigated other countries’ unfair trade practices.”

Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor who has been critical of Perksy’s sentence, told NBC News she thinks he was lenient because of their similar backgrounds.

“I think he was very persuaded by the background of the young man as an elite athlete,” she said.

Dauber also told NBC, “The judge had to bend over backwards to accommodate this young man. I believe that many people believe that assaults that happen on campus are less serious that assaults that happen elsewhere.”

3. The Victim’s Powerful Statement to Persky Has Gone Viral

The victim read a powerful 13-page statement to the court during Brock Turner’s sentencing, calling out the light punishment Turner received and saying he had left her “devastated.”

She also said he “dragged me through this hell with you,” through a year-long process that culminated with a trial.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today. The damage is done, no one can undo it,” she said. “And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”

She addressed the sentence, writing:

The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

She also said she understood that it was Turner’s first offense:

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

The woman also thanked the two bicyclists who saved her, and addressed other sexual assault victims,

“On nights when you feel alone, I am with you,” she said. “When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you.”

You can read the full statement by the victim at the link below:

4. He Lost His Bid for the Bench in 2002, But Was Appointed to a Vacant Position by Fellow Stanford Alum Gray Davis in 2003

Persky first ran for a Superior Court seat in 2002, but lost to Ron M. Del Pozzo, according to Santa Clara County records. Del Pozzo received 122,036 votes and Persky received 112,668.

His defeat came despite several endorsements, including from the Santa Clara Bar Association, the San Jose Mercury News, Congressman Mike Honda and two former San Jose Mayors.

He was then appointed to the bench in September 2003 by then-Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat and fellow Stanford University alum and athlete. According to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, Davis selected Persky, then a 41-year-old prosecutor, to fill a spot vacated by Judge Conrad Rushing, who had been elevated to the Sixth District Court of Appeal.

Persky is running for re-election to another term as a Superior Court judge, but he does not have an opponent, according to the Associated Press.
According to Ballotpedia, the Superior Court election is nonpartisan, so Persky does not have a political party. The primary is used to narrow down the field, Ballotpedia explains. If a person wins the majority of the votes in the primary, he or she wins the general election. If no candidate wins a majority, the top two vote-getters advance to the November general election.

The primary race for his seat would have been held on June 7, but he is not listed on the ballot because he is unopposed.

A write-in opponent could still run against Persky in the general election, officials told the Associated Press. A candidate would have to register as a write-in candidate by August 17.

He has never been challenged during his time as a judge.

For Persky to be recalled from his seat, a petition with more than 81,000 signatures of registered county voters would need to be collected, the Associated Press reports. The petitions would need to be submitted by August 12 for the recall election to be held in November.

5. He Prosecuted Sex Crimes While He Was a District Attorney in Santa Clara County

Persky graduated from the University of California-Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law in 1990 and was admitted to the bar that same year.

“After law school, I worked for the judges of the Superior Court of San Francisco for one year, researching civil and criminal legal issues. I then joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster as a litigation associate, gaining substantial experience in civil cases,” he said on his campaign website. “The firm sent me to Tokyo, Japan to work for a Japanese client for one year. I studied Japanese and later won a prestigious speech contest for non-native Japanese speakers, which was nationally televised in Japan.”

After returning from Japan, he became a criminal prosecutor in the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted “sex crimes and hate crimes.”

“I focus on the prosecution of sexually violent predators, working to keep the most dangerous sex offenders in custody in mental hospitals. I am also an Executive Committee member of the Santa Clara County Network for a Hate-Free Community, where I helped create a county-wide law enforcement policy on hate crimes. In addition, I serve as an Executive Committee Member of the Support Network for Battered Women,” Persky said on his campaign website.

“Aaron Persky is a Superior Court Judge in Santa Clara County, currently assigned to hear criminal matters in Palo Alto,” the Santa Clara Bar Association says on its website. “Governor Gray Davis appointed him to the Santa Clara County bench in 2003, where he has handled criminal, family, civil, and probate cases. He is the former Chair of the Court’s Community Outreach Committee. Judge Persky has a special interest in improving the effectiveness of the Court’s alternative dispute resolution programs.”

Persky is paid $155,181.62 a year, according to Transparent California.

He has no record of judicial violations.

During his 2002 election bid he told the League of Women Voters his top priorities if elected would be “honesty and integrity,” “equal justice for all” and “effective use of technology in the court room.”


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What would be the appropriate sentence, death penalty? Turner’s life is pretty much toast, as he’s not just expelled from Stanford, but is a registered sex offender for life.
The victim came on strong to Turner at the party, and left with him of her own volition to fool around with him outside. Turner had every indication that she wanted to get intimate, but her passing out from inebriation made him a criminal.
Recalling a judge of 12 years standing who was just re-elected smacks of vigilante justice, and is clearly intended to intimidate judges. Nobody had any problem with him until this one decision. Did you read the transcripts or sit on the trial? We’ve seen this before with the recall of Rose Bird.

Carolyn Watson-Dubisch

This man needs to be removed as a judge. In addition to this case there was another (source is wikipedia)
In 2011, Persky presided over a civil lawsuit against multiple members of the De Anza college baseball team, who were accused by the underage plaintiff of gang-raping her while she was unconscious until passersby intervened. The district attorney had decided not to file criminal charges over the 2007 incident.[17] During the civil trial, Persky decided that the jury should be allowed to view seven photos of the plaintiff taken at a party she attended approximately a year after the alleged gang rape, as per the defense’s claim that this evidence contradicted the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff’s attorney, who argued the photos were irrelevant, described this decision as prejudicial against her client.[18] The jury found the defendants not liable.[19]


You people are pathetic you call white people racist anytime they bring up race but you can say white man or anything having to do with white people and having privileges… truth is white people have brains,not privilege.

Steve White

I do not think this write for Heavy is interested in being fair at all, but the fact is the judge followed the Probation Department recommendation – as he has done in many cases – not just Stanford athletes or any kind of athlete.
It also should be pointed out the Latino man’s conviction, where the sentence had nothing to do with Persky but was part of a plea deal, was for a DIFFERENT CRIME – the claim of similarity is very weak on the fact, not just the difference in law, though that was crucial.
Finally, the people running the recall are famously dishonest political consultants- one firm did the Willie Horton ads, the Big Tobacco initiative to protect cigarette companies from lawsuits, and other phony big business baced referendums for fair wages which really lowered wages for all low paid workers – totally dishonest, and the same tacices are being used with this recall movement.


This is to provide a bit of additional background information on Judge Persky:

MICHAEL AARON PERSKY (his full name) was born on March 7, 1962, in Berkeley, California.

The recent articles and news broadcasts have made no mention of a wife. It is thus very possible that Judge Persky is not married. The recent articles and news broadcasts have made no mention of his marital status one way or the other.

Judge Persky’s father was DR. MURRAY PERSKY, a psychiatrist. He was born in New York City on May 18, 1923, and died in San Francisco on January 17, 2009. His parents were WILLIAM PERSKY (1892-1979) and the former FLORENCE (born Fannie) SALZMAN (1902-1992).

Dr. Persky was married three times. He had two sons with his first wife, three sons (including Aaron) with his second wife, and one son with his third wife.

Judge Persky’s mother was Dr. Persky’s second wife, SUSAN ELDER. She was born in Evansville, Indiana on March 28, 1939, and died in San Francisco on May 31, 2005. Her parents were GLENN EARL ELDER (1914-1987) and the former EVELYN M. WILLIAMS (1914-1994), who died as Evelyn Davis. Besides Aaron, Susan Elder and Murray Persky had two other sons together, one of whom passed away in 1991. Following her divorce from Dr. Persky, Susan reverted to her maiden name Elder and died as Susan Elder.

Murray Persky was Jewish, Susan Elder was not.

The obituaries of both Dr. Murray Persky and Susan Elder are available online:

For Dr. Persky’s obituary, simply google the name Murray Persky, and his obituary should appear at the top of the list. His obituary contains one error, showing his mother’s maiden name as “Salen” rather than the correct Salzman.

For Susan Elder’s obituary, you would google Susan Elder Obituary San Francisco.


She got drunk on her own before going to the frat party intending to hook up (no ride home).
She left the party with him voluntarily, laid down with him by the dumpsters to “neck”, at least.
If she hadn’t passed out, she would have been bragging about it the next day to her sister.
The author claiming that the bicyclists “saved her” is ridiculous.
She should be charged with encouraging the underage guy to drink alcohol.

Stacy (@AgirlinFL)

What happened leading up to this?Getting shitfaced drunk at a frat party? They all sound like innocent angels. I’m glad you all aren’t judges. Let’s not forget the public opinion on shooting a gorilla to save an innocent child’s life. Everyone just wants to latch on to something to “feel passionate,” about. You don’t know the law, maybe 6 months with 3 years probation for someone who has never been in trouble before IS enough. Let’s not forget about the fact it’s going to be nearly impossible for this guy to ever find a job. You all should read about Mark DeFriest’s story and actually help someone with serious injustice.


He looks like a skinny little rich white boy(I’m white) wimp that would have to resort to rape to get ’20 minutes of action’.
What a self entitled waste of humanity


The judge has no record of judicial violations??? And?? A “violation” would necessarily require that the sleazy judge Persky had broken judicial law. It does not mean that he hasn’t been abusing his authority to bend over backwards to help rapists escape punishment – within the law. Clearly, CA must not have mandatory sentencing for any of the 3 criminal counts sleaze wad Brock was found guilty of committing by a jury (obviously, the judge didn’t concur). Otherwisec creepy rape supporter judge Persky couldn’t have abused his authority by making up an arbitrary “nothing” sentence in an effort to unapologetically show favor to a rapist. It is way beyond disgusting. Persky has probably coddled all the rapist that have ever been lucky enough to go before him. He could have easily done so and not “violated” the law. So, just reporting that Persky has “no record of judicial violations” fails to provide the “whole truth”.


Too much leeway is given judges in sentencing. The guidelines should be less broad-based and more consistent. Judges all over the country are making incompetent and irrational decisions daily and making a mockery out of our justice system. Lawyers are deceiving the juries by withholding evidence. Prosecutors likewise. The whole system is corrupt. Even police are fabricating evidence to close cases.


“The question that I have to ask myself is …: Is state prison an antidote?” Perksy said. Wrong. That’s a question lawmakers had to answer, not a judge. A judge has to apply the law.

Buck Dear

Why should anyone be surprised….The sentence handed down fits perfectly with the “No accountability required” stance the left clearly is in favor of…..From Odumbdumb’s constant lies and “it’s always someone eleses fault” bullshit to Hillary’s lying defense, “Well other people did it too” Other people have killed others by drunk driving, does that make it a defense strategy? HELL NO…..But this tells it all, ” He was then appointed to the bench in September 2003 by then-Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat and fellow Stanford University alum and athlete” …… After LOSING…
“Persky first ran for a Superior Court seat in 2002, but lost to Ron M. Del Pozzo, according to Santa Clara County records. Del Pozzo received 122,036 votes and Persky received 112,668.”
Welcome to the “Hope and Change” lying bullschitt……


I think it’s important to try and see all sides of an issue but when someone degrades the office of the POTUS with childish name calling,it’s clear right off they aren’t intelligent enough to bother listening to. Congrats for making your comments irrelevant!


I’m curious why Judge Persky didn’t recuse himself from this case given; he is Stanford alum, he played lacrosse at Stanford, he was the captain for the Stanford lacrosse team and I bet dollars to donuts he financially supports Stanford? Why didn’t his boss recuse him, when Judge Persky didn’t do this himself? Why didn’t the victim’s attorneys file a petition to recuse him from the case? Once again the entire (wealth/white) legal system failed this yet another rape victim.


“Honorable” judge? Fair sentencing? Afraid going to prison as it would greatly affect him????? And what about what the innocent woman was subjected to????? Bastards all of them! Would their wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and children be so accepting of the crime and LACK of accountability of a boy who was a good “swimmer”????? Stanford should be totally embarrassed and mortally reeling from such an injustice!!!!! BOYCOTT STANFORD!!!! Get the biased judge disbarred” forever, plus making charges against him!! What Sanford has to say (or avoid )regarding all of this will make a difference on the school’s reputation in regards to morality, ethics, and overall treatment and ideas regarding all women. Nancy


I am tired of seeing rape portrayed as “merely” a woman’s problem. It needs to be seen as a violation of human rights. Instead of saying what if it is your wife, mother, sister etc., think “What if it were me?”. What if it was Judge Persky or any other man. What if Turner was the rape victim? His father would be calling for the death penalty for sure. I think Judge Persky was trying to protect Turner from being raped in real prison, it’s outrageous.

Grass Hopper

Santa Clara County Jail, which is where Brock is staying right now, is NOT a safe place! I just found out that 3 guards who worked there were arrested for beating an inmate up!! And this was not an isolated incident either! You are right…rape is not a woman’s problem…it is not good for ANYONE to be raped…even Brock does not deserve to be raped. Remember these words…if you would help even those that go against the grain, there is nothing that can block you from God’s (Or Yahweh or Higher Power, etc) grace. Love thy enemy. I’m concerned about the victim…but two wrongs do not make a right…Brock needs to be rehabilitated…not put in that jail where he might die! Guards have killed inmates in the past in that jail! Jails are not necessarily safer than prison!


Brock Turner and his father have acted like they are the victims in this case from day one; they are victims. Brock is a rapist and no father should make excuses for any act as vile as rape. Yes, Brock’s father needs to stand by his son and support him while he goes through the court system and prison term. But, both need to recognized that Brock RAPED a woman. Brock needs to man-up and accept what he did and accept his punishment.


It’s hilarious to watch criminal defense attorneys Gary Goodman and Barbara Muller get on their knees and kiss you know what to get some favors in court.

People should be really aware that many probation departments work very hard to get many of these criminals easy times and welfare. I know the adult kid of a wealthy family who has committed crime after crime, and his probation officer just worked to get him on welfare, help the parents make excuses, and help them to “spend some time on the beach” because they must be really stressed out…. from helping their kid commit crimes! People have no idea how the system helps the criminals it pretends to protect us from.


Aaron Persky looks like a sex offender himself. Maybe that’s also part of the reason he related to and had empathy for Brock. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).


According to the above piece, Persky has publicly stated, on his campaign website, the following:

““I focus on the prosecution of sexually violent predators, working to keep the most dangerous sex offenders in custody in mental hospitals.”

Can anyone explain how that statement, by Persky, in any way fits with the extremely lenient sentence — a sentence that also lacks even a hint of a requirement for psychological therapy — that Persky issued for the rapist in this case?


Where his friends make lots of money from “treatment” that is completely ineffective, but costs the taxpayers plenty! He may even get a bit back. Sex offender treatment is completely worthless. It’s a scam.

And even if the criminal is from a wealthy family, the taxpayer still pays most of the bill thanks to these rehab and psychologist frauds getting laws passed limiting payments from offenders. It’s a very lucrative rip off scam. with things like trips and entertainment for the offenders.


Considering the weight he placed in the perpetrators clean history, he probably didn’t see him as one of the “most dangerous sex offenders.”. If the judge felt his likelihood of re-offending was extremely low then that would make this case, in the mind of the judge, categorically different.


You all whishing the worse for this judge. You are all worse than the rapest. Yu all pretending to be good and fair and to support the drunk woman. You are all a bunch of hipocrits.


Since when is being drunk a crime?

Let me guess, if you had been involved in this, say if she had been a family member of yours, you probably would have let the guy go and killed her to keep your honor, for the crime of having a vagina and drinking, am I right?


So it’s her fault that she got raped? Are you seriously saying this right now? WTF?


If Persky cannot be removed, let every juror refuse to serve in his court, and deny him the ability to make future judgements like this ever again! No Juror for Persky!

WP Flanagan

I don’t see it as white privilege, what I see is athletic privilege. Ask Baylor. Ask Tennessee.


Does anyone know how to view a judges history of convictions? I really am tired of the debate of black vs white and how much more lenient judges are with white offenders, etc especially when people compare cases that were handled by different judges. Since not all judges are the same it’s stupid to compare these cases. I would love to know judge judge Michael Aaron Persky’s conviction rate to use as comparison since he is the main focus right now. I want to know if he was just as lenient with black offenders or if he wasn’t.


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