More than 5,000 Californians have signed a petition stating they will refuse to serve on a jury in Aaron Persky’s courtroom following his lenient sentence for Stanford sex criminal Brock Turner, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The "Don't Serve in Judge Persky's Court" petition shows "the public does not trust Judge Persky to deliver justice, and he should be removed from the bench," says a rep for women's advocacy group UltraViolet, which backed the petition along with California's Courage Campaign. A separate campaign has raised $300,000 in an effort to recall Persky after he sentenced Turner to six months in county jail—Turner will likely serve only three—and three years of probation following a sexual assault on Stanford’s campus.
The recall campaign can't kick off until April 3, three months into Persky's next six-year term, according to California law. At that point, 80,000 signatures from Santa Clara County residents will be needed to call a special election. But "if he doesn't have a jury, he can't do his job," the petition states. Persky already had to excuse jurors who refused to serve in his court in his first case since the Turner decision; he was also pulled from another sex assault case. In an open letter published Thursday, however, 18 retired Santa Clara County judges say Persky should stay put. "The essence of judicial independence is that judges must be able to make decisions without fear of political repercussions," they wrote, adding they weren't taking sides on "whether [Turner's] sentence was adequate or appropriate."