American Judges Association


Date of this Version



2019 Authors


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


In March of 2016, a jury convicted Brock Allen Turner of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.1 The story of Turner’s prosecution attracted national attention even before he was sentenced. Turner, then a 19-year-old Stanford University athlete, sexually assaulted 22-year-old Jane Doe 1 while she was unconscious behind a dumpster near a fraternity house on campus.

The media attention escalated to viral status when Turner received the sentencing decision from Judge Aaron Persky, who at the time had been a judge on the Santa Clara County Superior Court for over a decade. The media headlines almost wrote themselves: on the three felony counts, Turner faced up to fourteen years in state prison; but Judge Persky rejected the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation of six years in prison and instead granted Turner probation and sentenced him to a total of six months in county jail.2 Under a California law that allows inmates to earn one day off their sentence for each day of good behavior,3 Mr. Turner served a total of only three months, and was released in early September 2016.