SAN JOSE (BCN) A retired judge today lifted a temporary restraining order that prevented the collection of signatures for the recall of controversial Santa Clara County Court Superior Judge Aaron Persky.
Judge Ksenia Tsenin announced the rescinding of the order this afternoon, opening the way for proponents of the recall to move forward with collecting signatures in support of it.
Persky is the target of a recall after he sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail last year after Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a
He had sued after the intent to recall request was submitted earlier this year, arguing the state should have the right to remove or recall judges, not the public.
Persky's attorneys will appeal the ruling to the California Court of Appeal. If that court overturns Tsenin's ruling, any signatures collected by the recall effort between now and when the appeals court ruling is issued
will be considered invalid.
Supporters of Persky's recall effort cheered as the judge made her ruling and as court was adjourned.
"This ruling validates our belief that Judge Persky filed a frivolous lawsuit that was intended to stall and delay the democratic process," said Stanford professor Michele Dauber, who leads the Committee to Recall Persky.
All Santa Clara County Superior Court judges recused themselves from hearing the case, which was why a retired judge handled the case.
Residents of local municipalities, such as a county, can recall a state officer, such as a judge. Pulling ffrom her own past as a municipal judge, Tsenin said her income was from the City of San Francisco and her accountability was to its residents, not the legislature.
Last Tuesday, lawyers for the Secretary of State filed a motion insisting the collection of signatures in support of Persky's recall should be allowed to begin. This, after Persky's legal team filed an injunction in the recall effort to block the collections.
In court today, they renewed their argument a trial judge is an officer of the court, and the Secretary of State, not the county registrar of voters, should oversee the recall.
"It's not a stall tactic. It's about following the law. The people of this state voted for the constitution. They approved it and that needs to be respected," said Elizabeth Pipkin, the lead attorney on the Persky legal team.
"His lenient sentence for Mister Turner sent a terrible message to victims of sexual violence on college campuses," said Dauber.
Persky defenders say he did nothing wrong and that the sentence was handed down after consulting with the probation department.. But the backlash could lead to his removal from office by Santa Clara voters next Spring.
Recall petitions that had been held in Los Angeles, pending the outcome of the proceedings, are being brought to the South Bay by truck overnight.
Organizers say they'll begin collecting signatures tomorrow. Judge Tsenin will make her final ruling Thursday, one day before the deadline to get this issue on the Spring ballot.