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Judge Aaron Persky: Dolores Huerta, women’s right to choose invoked in recall battle

Proponents of ousting a Santa Clara County judge over the controversial sentence he gave nearly two years ago to a former Stanford athlete in a sensational sexual assault case have mailed a flyer to voters proclaiming support for the measure by  a Latina icon — Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers.
Recall opponents also announced a coup of their own – endorsements by two leading Congresswomen, Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who want to retain Judge Aaron Persky.
Neither congresswoman in a joint news release issued Wednesday debated the merits of Persky’s decision nearly two years ago to sentence former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an intoxicated, unconscious woman outside a campus frat party. Turner wound up serving only three months in county jail under a policy aimed at reducing overcrowding. Under state law, he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life .
Instead, they argued that judges need to be insulated from political pressure for lawful decisions in the Trump era, among other reasons to hold the line on “a woman’s right to choose,” oppose the Muslim ban and keep “DACA kids” here.
The lastest volley of endorsements comes as voters in Santa Clara County will decide on June 5 whether to unseat Persky. If the recall succeeds, Persky would become only the fourth judge in California history to be booted out of office before his term is up — and the first in 86 years.
Voters also will get a chance to choose between two candidates who are running to succeed Persky, if he is ousted: civil attorney Angela Storey and prosecutor Cindy Hendrickson. Storey has called the recall a “dangerous precedent” and said voters should focus on changing laws when they disagree with outcomes rather than removing judges. Hendrickson has declined to comment on the Turner case but said she supports the recall.
The pro-recall mailer featuring a young Huerta with a megaphone also included the slogan “Si Se Puede,” or “Yes, we can,” an apparent bid for the Latino vote. But recall leader Michele Dauber said the mailer was not sent just to Latino voters, noting that Huerta, now 88, is a nationally known civil rights activist.
The campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky touts the endorsement of Latina icon Dolores Huerta in a mailer that was sent to voters in late May 2018. Huerta co-founded United Farm Workers. 
Recall opponents view the effort to oust Persky as a crusade that threatens to exacerbate injustice by frightening other judges into imposing longer sentences, which they say will mostly harm lower-income racial minorities who are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system.
However, a recent poll of likely voters conducted for this news organization and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group showed that 51 percent of voters of color favored the recall, compared to 45 percent of whites. But more voters of color — 27 percent — are undecided, compared to 18 percent of white voters.
They argue that dependence from popular opinion is what has allowed judges to rule on civil rights, integrated schools, free speech, access to birth control and marriage equality. The effort to retain Persky is supported by Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, county Public Defender Molly O’Neal and legal luminaries such as Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC-Berkeley’s law school.
The recall campaign is backed by women’s rights organizations such as the Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women, and by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Anita Hill.
In a Vogue magazine article Wednesday titled “Rape Culture is on the Ballot In California,” Persky’s leading donor, San Jose lawyer Jim McManis appears to dispute the facts in the Turner case. Referring to the victim known as Emily Doe, McManis is quoted as saying, “This woman was not attacked” and implied that she was partly to blame because she “had been drinking before she arrived at the fraternity party.”
McManis could not be immediately reached for comment.

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