Over a year ago I wrote about the hornets nest that opened around Judge Aaron Persky in Santa Clara, California. You may recall that he presided over the trial of a Stanford swimmer accused of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.
The swimmer, Brock Turner, was convicted. Judge Persky sentenced him to six months in jail and three years probation. In addition, Mr. Turner will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Now Stanford law professor Michele Dauber is leading an effort to recall Judge Persky from office because she didn't like the sentence he meted out. Ms. Dauber also has a personal ax to grind as she is friends with the victim's family.
As I pointed out last year, the sentence that Judge Persky handed down was within the range of punishment set out by the California state legislature which makes it a perfectly legal sentence. Sixteen legislators, who are more influenced by publicity than intelligence, have called on the state to investigate Judge Persky for misconduct.
Just let that stew for a minute or two. A judge presides over a trial. After the jury convicts, the judge imposes a sentence within the parameters set out in the law. Some folks don't like it and get pissed off. Someone please tell me where the misconduct lies. Exactly when did Judge Persky do during the sentencing phase of the trial that violated one of the canons of judicial conduct?
The answer is he never did.
Ms. Dauber is leading a witch hunt. She didn't like the verdict. It went against her political beliefs and agenda. And so she decided to give her students a lesson in how not to behave. She's gone even further and has failed her students by making false assertions about how our criminal (in)justice system works. And what's worse - she isn't even close.
As I have stated many times before, the purpose of our criminal (in)justice system is to determine whether the government has provided sufficient evidence to prove an individual committed a criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government did, the defendant is convicted. If the government didn't, the defendant is acquitted. In the event the defendant is convicted, the judge, or jury, then determines the appropriate sentence within the parameters set out by the legislature.
It's that simple.
The purpose of the criminal (in)justice system is not to bring "justice" (whatever the hell that is) to an alleged victim. It's not to give an alleged victim their "day in court." It's not about vindicating an alleged victim's story.
It is to determine whether there is enough credible evidence to restrict a person's liberty for a period of time.
When a jury returns a not guilty verdict, they are not slapping the alleged victim in the face. When a jury returns a not guilty verdict, they are not calling an alleged victim a liar. When a jury returnes a not guilty verdict, they are not denying justice to an alleged victim. When a jury returns a not guilty verdict, they are, instead, telling the world that the government didn't meet its burden of proof. That's it.
The legislature determines the range of punishment for every criminal offense. This range gives judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys plenty of room to determine what's appropriate. These ranges exist because every case is unique and what may be appropriate in one case isn't appropriate for another one.
Maybe the sentence Judge Persky handed down was too lenient. Maybe it was just right. Whatever the case may be, he sentenced Mr. Turner within the range of punishment for that offense. That's not misconduct. That's called doing his job.
Perhaps Ms. Dauber should go back to doing her job -- and brushing up on her knowledge of criminal law while she's at it.