Santa Clara County voters agreed Tuesday, ousting Persky from office after almost 15 years on the bench. But the judge said the publicity of Turner's arrest and trial and his loss of a swimming scholarship also factored into the sentence. Recall supporters from around the country poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the effort to oust Persky, furious with the lenient sentence handed down to Turner.
But opponents of the recall warned that Tuesday's lopsided result - Persky lost by 20 points - is also a powerful political force where it shouldn't be: the courtroom. This marks the first time since 1932 that California voters have recalled a sitting judge.
One would think Persky did something horrendous to have warranted such a recall. Instead, because it happened in 2016, the year America elected an avowed vagina-grabber to the highest office in the land, Turner was given the boys-will-be-boys wrist-slap of a three-month sentence.
But in sentencing Turner, Persky cited his age, the fact that both he and the victim were drunk and that prison could have a "severe" impact on Turner's life as his reasoning for leniencey.
On the other side of the debate are veteran legal professionals who say that ousting Persky could set a unsafe precedent, threatening judicial independence and forcing judges to mete out harsher sentences simply to stave off public outrage and political repercussions. The California Commission on Judicial Performance has cleared him of misconduct.
Only five states - California, Arizona, North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin - allow judges to be recalled for any reason. Judges should adhere to "the rule of law and not the rule of public opinion", he said. Those who remember it, remember a bad judge making a bad decision and that's about it.
Michele Dauber teaches law at Standord University. The study found judges issued longer sentences for serious felony conviction when they were close to re-election. The opposition to the recall effort - including the Santa Clara County district attorney, its presiding judge and multiple former judges - argued that this was the proper democratic response to the controversial jail sentence, rather than removing the judge himself.
Legal experts don't expect Persky's ouster will unleash a fresh wave of judicial recalls, though some are concerned that even the threat could push judges to impose harsher sentences, particularly in sex cases. "We're fighting for women's equality. The basic rule is the rule of law", he said. Prosecutors had asked for a six-year sentence, but the probation department didn't recommend jail time.
Recall elections are exceedingly rare in the United States, and in particular in California.
"This recall has destroyed this judge", Edwards said. The last judge recalled in the United States occurred in Wisconsin in 1977.
In other words, he helped incarcerate people like Turner, 22, who now lives near Dayton, Ohio, and is required to register annually for life as a sex offender.