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Effort to oust judge in Stanford swimmer case temporarily halted

A court on Friday temporarily halted the campaign seeking to oust a Northern California judge targeted for recall for sentencing a college athlete convicted of sexual assault to six months in jail instead of prison.

Campaign officials said Friday that Santa Clara County election officials authorized campaign officials to begin collecting voter signatures to put the recall of Santa Clara County judge Aaron Persky on the June ballot. Persky was targeted for recall last year after sentencing former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman who had passed out after drinking too much alcohol.

Persky’s lawyers argued Friday that proponents need permission from the California secretary of State because county judges are state officers.

Persky lawyer Elizabeth Pitkin also said the campaign is misleading voters by saying they can choose the judge’s replacement if he’s recalled. The governor is the only person authorized to replace county judges, Pitkin said.

Persky’s lawyers argue that recall organizers must restart their campaign with the state.

Retired Orange County Judge Marjorie Laird Carter scheduled an Aug. 23 hearing. Carter is hearing the case in San Jose after all the Santa Clara County judges recused themselves because of their relationship with Persky.

If Carter rules in Persky’s favor, it will shorten the time proponents are allotted to gather 90,000 Santa Clara County voter signatures to qualify the issue for the June ballot.

“We believe that this is simply a last-ditch desperate effort by Judge Persky to avoid the democratic process,” said Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber, who is leading the campaign effort.

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