Aaron Persky, who lost his job in the state’s first judicial recall in nearly nine decades, is asking supporters to help pay off a small fortune in court-ordered debt he incurred by challenging the campaign against him.
“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,” he wrote in an email sent Tuesday. “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.”
The 56-year-old Palo Alto resident said he has until the end of the month to pay it all off.
More than 60 percent of Santa Clara County voters supported the recall in response to the controversially brief sentence Persky gave to a former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The embattled judge, who took home an $186,000-a-year salary on the bench, raised $840,000 to fend off the recall, which he unsuccessfully tried to block in court.
Persky didn’t respond right away to a request for comment.
But in his email, Persky explained how the debt stemmed from a lawsuit contending that the California Secretary of State, and not the local election office, should preside over the petition to qualify the recall for the ballot. A lower court rejected his claim in 2017.
“Unfortunately,” Persky wrote, “recall proponents, represented by a California law firm, prevailed in the litigation.” He 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 Stanford University law professor who led the high-profile recall campaign, said the ex-jurist had it coming.
“Judge Persky made the bad decision to repeatedly file frivolous lawsuits and appeals with the goal of stalling and causing expense,” she wrote in an email to San Jose Inside. “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.”