‘I can’t believe what you did.’ Judge in Stanford sexual assault case slammed by potential jurors

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, shown in 2011, has been criticized for sentencing former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail in a sexual assault case.
(Jason Doiy / The Recorder via AP)

Some jurors are refusing to serve in the courtroom of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, citing his decision to sentence Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail in a sexual assault case.

“I can’t believe what you did,” one prospective told the judge this week in declining to serve on a jury in one case, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

It’s unclear how many people have refused to serve, but some media reports in the Bay Area said it was more than 10 over the course of the week.


KPIX-TV said court officials were surprised at the defiance but that Persky was able eventually to seat a jury in the case.

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Turner could be released as early as September after serving only three months of his six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster near campus.

Turner, 20, was booked into custody on June 2 and is scheduled to be released Sept. 2, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department inmate records.

Inmates in Santa Clara County serve only 50% of their sentences under California Penal Code Section 4019(a)(6). For every two days served, they receive two days’ credit and another two days for maintaining good conduct and a clean record in custody. The result is that inmates serve half of their sentence, according to a California Courts felony sentencing report.

Sheriff’s spokesman James Jensen said the court sets Turner’s release date. Deputies, he said, are then responsible for “making sure the inmate is safe and protected.”


Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.

He was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, but prosecutors asked Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky to sentence him to six years.

Persky instead sentenced Turner last week to six months in county jail and three years’ probation.

The jail sentence has sparked outrage from critics who say Persky was too lenient on Turner. Others have launched a campaign to recall the judge from the bench.

Turner is housed in protective custody in the sheriff’s department main jail, Jensen said. He is one of 90 inmates in protective custody in that unit.

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There are 3,600 inmates in custody in the sheriff’s department’s jails, and 1,100 of those are in protective custody, Jensen said. Inmates deemed to be high risk are placed in the unit, including those who have been sentenced in sexual assault and sex crime cases, former gang members and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

In protective custody, Turner must wear a brown shirt and pants and is allowed supervised visits. He is allowed to roam the unit’s open, common space for seven to 10 hours per week and is monitored by cameras. Inmates in protective custody are assigned to one- or two-person cells.

Jailers conduct periodic welfare checks on the inmates.

So far, it appears that Turner hasn’t been involved in any major jail disputes, according to Jensen.

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