Former Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who was criticized for his sentence in Stanford University athlete Brock Turner’s case and became the first California judge to be recalled in nearly a century, is now reportedly seeking donations from his supporters to help pay off legal fees.
In an email titled “A Final Ask” sent to his supporters on Tuesday, Persky said: “I am writing to thank you for your support during the recall campaign, and to ask you to contribute to defray $135,000 in court-ordered attorney fees arising from the recall.”
“On June 5, 2018, I was recalled by voters after a well-funded, misleading, and extremely negative campaign by recall proponents. My campaign, which stressed the vital importance of an independent judiciary, received broad support from the legal community in Santa Clara County and beyond,” he continued, according to The Mercury News.
Persky lost his job in June after more than 60 percent of voters in Santa Clara County agreed that he should be recalled after sentencing Turner to six months in jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman.
“My campaign committee has spent all its resources fighting the recall, and now must pay $135,000 to satisfy the attorney fees order, which is due by December 31,” Persky, 56, continued in the email. “I am writing to ask you to make a contribution to that effort.”
Persky, who reportedly earned a yearly salary of $186,000 while serving on the bench, collected over $840,000 in donations to fend off the recall, which he was unsuccessful in blocking in court.
According to the local paper, Persky would have reportedly been paid $150,000 a year in pension after leaving the court if he had been able to serve about six more years in office.
However, a CalPERS spokesperson told the paper that the former judge will only receive a lump sum refund of the money that both he and his employer put into his pension fund in addition to interest.
Persky explained in his email how the debt incurred by challenging the campaign brought against him stemmed from a lawsuit that contended the California secretary of state should have presided over the petition to qualify his recall for the ballot instead of the local election office. However, his claim was reportedly rejected by a lower court last year.
“Unfortunately,” Persky wrote, “recall proponents, represented by a California law firm, prevailed in the litigation.”
The former judge added: “I pursued the litigation so that Superior Court judges would benefit from the same procedural protections as other state officers who face recall elections.”
Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford University who led the recall campaign, told San Jose Inside that Persky deserved the outcome.
“Judge Persky made the bad decision to repeatedly file frivolous lawsuits and appeals with the goal of stalling and causing expense,” she said in a statement to the local outlet. “The court has concluded that he should be required to pay for that decision, and we are happy that our lawyer will be getting paid for his outstanding work in defending our constitutional rights, and those of the voters of Santa Clara County.”