Alaska’s Judge Michael Corey, The Next Persky?

To the extent former California Judge Aaron Persky can be blamed for not being harsh enough to suit the whims the mob of useful idiots by Stanford law prof Michele Dauber, it was his choice to impose a sentence of six months on Brock Turner. The situation for Alaska Third Judicial District Superior Court Judge Michael Corey is different, not that it matters to the mob.

The facts, as alleged, are awful.

A man drove an Alaska Native woman to a dark street, said he would kill her and choked her until she blacked out.

He then masturbated on her face.

The woman, known by her initials, L.K., caught the perp’s license plate and called 911. The defendant, 34-year-old Justin Schneider, was arrested and prosecuted. It ended with a negotiated plea.

Originally charged with kidnapping, 34-year-old Justin Schneider pleaded guilty to a single count of felony assault in a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced last week to two years in prison with one year suspended.

Having already spent a year in home confinement, he stepped out of the courtroom with no more time to serve.

This wasn’t Judge Corey’s choice of outcome or sentence, but a negotiated deal. Yet, he’s the target of outrage.

The case has stirred outrage, with victims’ advocates pointing to it as another example of a lenient sentence for a crime against women amid the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. The judge said he thought the sentence was too light but deferred to prosecutors on what could be proven at trial.

Why a deal is cut varies from case to case. Sometimes, the evidence doesn’t support the allegations, and prosecutors face the very real prospect of losing. Sometimes, the victim of the crime desperately wishes to avoid giving testimony, and so they do the best they can to avoid trial. Sometimes, legal problems arise that prosecutors are constrained to address, even if they result in a deal, as here, that seems inadequate.

Corey said the prosecutors who made the terms of the plea deal, including assistant district attorney Andrew Grannik, knew far more about the case than he did and what could be proven.

“I think it speaks volumes that an individual such as Mr. Grannik is advocating for the acceptance of what at first blush would really, quite frankly, strike me as way too light of a sentence,” the judge said.

The point is that deals are negotiated between the prosecutor and the defense for reasons, none of which bear upon the judge. Here, a significant aspect of the deal was that Alaska law didn’t make “unwanted contact with semen” a sex offense, and the terms of the probation under the deal included sex offender treatment, which would otherwise not have been available for the offense.

The prosecutor believed Schneider needed sex offender treatment and the only way to ensure that was by making it part of probation conditions in a plea agreement, he said in a statement.

Because the unwanted contact with semen isn’t considered a sex crime in Alaska, Schneider will not have to register as a sex offender.

He was convicted of the next most serious charge. With no previous convictions, the sentencing range was zero to two years, Skidmore said.

Despite this, the sentence imposed failed to reach the level of harshness demanded by the outraged mob, and so, as with Persky, they now demand that Judge Corey pay for his failure to  meet their demands of retribution.

Should plea deals be subject to the approval of outside mobs? Should judges refuse to accept the judgment of the parties as reflected in the negotiated deal for fear that some mob will subsequently hold the judge responsible if it fails to meet their blood lust?

“Though it is understandable that some feel his sentence was not sufficiently harsh, all prosecutors are ethically required to follow the law, no matter how disturbing the facts may be,” Skidmore said.

The mob knows neither the law nor the people involved, not that facts or law matter.

“It’s absolutely appalling that he walked away free,” said Elizabeth Williams, a social worker and former volunteer rape counselor organizing the effort to oust the judge.

Williams, the local Dauber, blames Judge Corey, not for negotiating the plea deal and not based on anything beyond her feelings of “absolutely appalling.”

She said Judge Corey “makes zero reference to the lifelong impact this had on the victim. It’s like she just disappeared from the story.”

Of course, this doesn’t come from the victim, but from an outsider who is outraged on behalf of the victim. And it’s a lie. Her complaint isn’t that Judge Corey made “zero reference,” as if random angry women get to dictate the words used by judges, but that the sentence didn’t involve life plus cancer, as her feelings would require.

Williams said the judge could have rejected the plea deal.

Judge Corey could have rejected the deal, but to what end? To overrule the judgment of the prosecutor? To force a trial upon a victim who wanted anything but trial? To compel a not guilty verdict because the evidence couldn’t sustain the charge? These are the things a judge considers. Williams only wants blood, and has neither the intellectual capacity nor desire to grasp that her fury doesn’t mean she gets to demand that judges bend to her will.

The ousting of Judge Persky was a travesty on every level, not that the outraged mob gave a damn about anything but retribution for not inflicting their demanded level of harshness. But here, the complaint is a step removed, the judge’s “fault” being that he didn’t reject a fundamental component of the system because the mob’s lust for vengeance wouldn’t be sufficiently sated.

What happened to Persky was untenable, but its consequences are seen in this attack on Judge Corey. The independence of judges, not to mention the ability to maintain a viable legal system, is under attack, seeking to coerce judges to meet their ideal of cruelty. If this isn’t crushed, it will get worse.

33 thoughts on “Alaska’s Judge Michael Corey, The Next Persky?

  1. wilbur

    After reading the article, I smell a backstory that would explain a lot of what this plea deal was about. But to suggest what might be would be pure speculation. Or impure speculation.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      I smell the same thing, there being a few fairly common reasons why a prosecutor bails on a case with an agreed-upon light sentence when his prime witness turns out to…nope, not going there either without proof.

      Reply
  2. Richard Kopf

    SHG,

    As you know, there is a fundamental Constitutional reason (under both State and Federal Constitutions) why judges typically accept negotiated pleas. It is the Executive branch that prosecutes. It is not the job of the judge to superintend the Executive in this task.

    The idiots who Persky (the poor bastard’s name has become a verb) don’t understand the distinction. This is terminal stupidity at its very worst. If carried to its logical extreme, the fundamental distinction between branches of government is blurred if not erased.

    I am very glad you wrote this post. Perhaps it will make a difference to Alaskans who prefer thinking to incoherence. One can only hope that the majority of Alaskans who decide to vote have IQs exceeding the ambient temperature of that wild wilderness in winter. Perhaps your post can be used by the judge’s supporters to a good end.

    All the best.

    RGK

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      We all saw the dangers of Persky, and the fact that the mob not only got away with it, but is empowered to rape and pillage at will. This is unsustainable.

      Reply
  3. Jordan

    Ever get the feeling that the press release would have been a nearly-verbatim copy of this one, even if the story were, instead, that the complainant didn’t want to testify, begged the prosecutor to offer whatever that took, and the prosecutor had said, “IDGAF. He’s a monster and he’s going down. Here’s your subpoena. You’re my first witness.”

    Reply
  4. Adam

    It’s pretty telling that your main concern is the unchecked power of judges, and not the obvious incompetence exhibited by the prosecutor, and allowed by the judge. Even the prosecutor himself slipped up and said it was a pass, and clumsily tried to cover his tracks. Judges can reject deals based on leniency, as you know. The judge also spoke to him like a father would speak to their son consistently which is quite irritating and it is important that they mention the victim in this situation.

    This is far different from the Brock Turner case, because that was most likely between two somewhat consensual individuals and was simply taken too far. This is basically the story of every serial killers first try at exerting their power.
    Even the charges are outrageous, just reread your first paragraph about the events that took place. Second degree felony assault is what they came up with, and they even gave him on the lenient scale of 0 to 2 years instead of up to 10 which is the maximum, as you know.
    The judge is the final word in the situation and that is why he is receiving the majority of the blame, although most of the incompetence is clearly by the DA.
    There is much more to be safe final word is that people need to be held accountable. Especially when they’re in such an important positions like that of a judge.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Burroughs

      When I think “most likely between two somewhat consensual individuals”, passed out behind a dumpster immediately springs to mind…

      Reply
  5. Adam

    It’s pretty telling that your main concern is the unchecked power of judges, and not the obvious incompetence exhibited by the prosecutor, and allowed by the judge. Even the prosecutor himself slipped up and said it was a pass, and clumsily tried to cover his tracks. And if the judge himself described this verdict as a breathtaking for anybody outside of it. Judges can reject deals based on leniency, as you know. The judge also spoke to him like a father would speak to their son consistently which is quite irritating and it is important that they mention the victim in this situation.

    This is far different from the Brock Turner case, because that was most likely between two somewhat consensual individuals and was simply taken too far. This is basically the story of every serial killers first try at exerting their power.
    Even the charges are outrageous, just reread your first paragraph about the events that took place. Second degree felony assault is what they came up with, and they even gave him on the lenient scale of 0 to 2 years instead of up to 10 which is the maximum, as you know.
    The judge is the final word in the situation and that is why he is receiving the majority of the blame, although most of the incompetence is clearly by the DA.
    There is much more to be safe final word is that people need to be held accountable. Especially when they’re in such an important positions like that of a judge.

    Reply
    1. Miles

      We get it, Adam. Your not lawyer, feel the sentence was very wrong and feel that you should take it out on the judge because you disagree with the sentence. Non-lawyers do that sometimes, because they lack any grasp of the issues or implications involved.

      No one is defending the sentence as being right, but you’ve said nothing that matters. You’re angry. That’s fine. But the actions you promote are wrong and foolish, and rather than try to understand, you prefer to defend your ignorance and outrage. There’s nothing unusual about a non-lawyer doing that, but it’s disinteresting and unpersuasive to anyone who doesn’t share your ignorance.

      Reply
      1. SHG Post author

        He’s not interested. He’s here to troll without realizing that the gibberish that works with others who share his ignorance doesn’t fly with lawyers.

        Reply
      2. Adam

        Hello Miles,

        While I’m certainly not a lawyer, I do have an undergraduate degree in law, a masters in security with an emphasis on antiterrorism and I currently work for the DHS/USCIS enforcing / interpreting immigration law. No lawyer though. I’ll concede a small point here, I approached my post as a response to someone talking about the case itself, but the author is strictly speaking in defense of judges in general.

        When he does try to address the actual outrage that is responsible for the calls of outing of the judge, he quite hilariously and slyly victim blames. The district attorney is responsible, and the judge is the final word.

        The consistent calls for mob Justice are obviously unwarranted and that is mostly what he is speaking about. The judge for Brock Turner should not have been punished because that case is a thousand times different than this. It’s not even clear that Brock Turner committed a crime, or at least impossible to tell.

        The people are going to hold the judge responsible for the final decision because that is actually who is responsible. He use the word breathtaking, the district attorney use the word pass.

        Reply
        1. Miles

          I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your “legal” chops are remarkably unimpressive, as is your comment. Childish catchphrases like “victim blaming” doesn’t play well around here.

          Most importantly, no you don’t get to “hold the judge responsible” because you didn’t like his decision. The system exists to prelude that, to prevent every outraged asshole from trying to influence judge’s exercise of discretion. That you still can’t grasp that demonstrates how little you understand.

          Reply
          1. Adam

            You have been the one insistent on providing legal credentials, I have not tried once to express any legal chops. And because you do not like a phrase that I use does not make the statement any less true.

            This is quite difficult using push to talk on my phone and remember everything that was mentioned in your post.

            The judge is on a retention ballot this year because the people of the state have to approve of their retention. So it is important to address the outrage properly. Sitting on a high horse pretending that there isn’t a single person in the world that could possibly grasp the nuanced concept of law is kind of silly it is exactly going to get you what the last case got.

            Reply
            1. SHG Post author

              Nobody makes you use push to talk, Adam. If you suck at it, don’t use it. Same with law.

              You’re done here, by the way, so don’t waste your time with more comments. Try reddit.

        2. Skink

          Adam, you aren’t getting it. See the blue box up top? See where it says “A criminal Defense Blog?” Most of the people that visit this here Hotel are lawyers and judges. We don’t have “an undergraduate degree in law,” whatever nonexistent thing that might be. We actually graduated from law school and actually do this stuff everyday. Really! So when someone wanders into the Hotel lounge spouting law and spewing cheap bourbon all over us, we know that person doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Adam, we know you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Really!

          Think of it this way: if the blue box said “a Blog for Electricians,” we’d talk about ohms, watts and volts. We might talk about what color wire goes best with a rig of searchlights. But if some lawyer came in all expertly about how solar is better than nuclear, we’d probably tell him to go stand in a fountain with a badly-rigged searchlight. Get it?

          Adam, is there a fountain near you?

          Reply
          1. Casual Lurker

            “Adam, is there a fountain near you?”

            The problem with your suggestion is electrical apparatus for use in areas with running or pooled water, including consistently damp or wet areas, are required by the National Electrical Code to be fitted with a Ground Fault Interrupter. (Most new apparatus, intended for use in the aforementioned areas, comes factory-fitted with a GFI).

            And the NEC, in almost every jurisdiction in the U.S., is “incorporated by reference” by those jurisdictions. Maybe it’s better to suggest he just bring a long extension cord with him?

            In other news, several years back, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, whose logo was a hand holding a criss-crossed pair of lightening bolts, merged with the United Furniture Workers of America. When the union bosses tried to come up with a new, common logo, that represented both parties, the only thing they could think of was the Electric Chair. They ultimately decided to keep their respective logos.
            ==================
            Note to SHG: This is just a cameo. I, unfortunately, was blindsided by the abrupt departure of several key personnel, leaving me to diaper the noobs. So much for partial retirement. However, you could have left the perfectly fine math CAPTCHA alone, other than an innate desire to tinker with things, unnecessarily. (When the threat board lights up like a Christmas tree, and I have to change a half dozen settings to post, it’s an effective deterrent).

            P.S. I’d seen your JusticeTruck twit photo, where you say “All I really wanted was a taco”. Protip: Taco Bell is not the Mexican phone company.

            Reply
  6. Adam

    I got a feeling you’re either denying or deleting my post but I will try again I suppose. I’m using push to talk on my phone and this is a rather archaic way of posting a message. I’ll try again.

    You addreased the point of what I was saying about as well as the judge addressed the crime that was committed in his court room. I am glad that he’s going to be removed.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Sorry, Adam, but you aren’t the center of the universe, just another flaming nutjob who shows up to fight their particular beef with their random brand of idiocy. There’s no response to your because you didn’t say anything worth responding to. Your comment is posted, for what it’s worth.

      And we don’t do “you’re so right” from your pals, Adam. This isn’t reddit. They just get trashed.

      Reply
  7. losingtrader

    FWIW I knew this wasn’t going to go well after Adam’s first post.
    When he reposted it again, well, I knew it would at least make for some good additions to my list of SHGisms.
    So, thanks Adam!

    I’m just hoping I don’t cross paths at a border with a DHS agent who has an undergraduate degree in law.
    Adam, I won’t be referring to Carmen Miranda.

    They let me hang around here, most of the time, for the occasional humor and free pears.

    Quick question for Adam: If I show up at the US border with 10 genetically identical cloned dogs and one veterinary vaccination certification, what are you going to do?

    Reply
  8. Billy Bob

    Just another SHG drubbing. Remember when he turned “only mom” into Only Toast?
    And then there was Carl David Ceder, the Texas lawyer who warned SHG to bring a lot of first aide kits to a proposed rumble. That was a few years ago, and utterly hilarious.

    Many have tried, and many have cried. Including yours truly. However, if you take your lickings as a rite of initiation, there’s the possibility of redemption. It’s just words after all, the savvy lawyer’s stock in trade.

    The best was when he rewrote my comment, cause he did not like the one submitted. That’s when I got “hooked” on SJ, which ain’t so simple! Tough crowd here, but ultimately rewarding.

    I mean, where else are you going to learn about “rights without remedies,?

    Reply
  9. Steve Wells

    One major factor: the victim couldn’t be found. That makes it hard to get a conviction.

    I’m a defense attorney from Alaska. I know the law, the facts (as reported) and the people. This was an unusual sentence based on unusual circumstances. It’s made worse because the victim is an Alaska Native woman, which brings a racial component that requires residence here to fully appreciate.

    All told, the prosecutors got a conviction with a sex offender treatment requirement they would not have gotten if he’d proceeded to trial and she’d been missing. The judge could either sign off on it or not. And the judge knew if he didn’t sign off on it, he’d be in trial and granting a judgment of acquittal.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Thanks for the missing detail. It was assumed there had to be something that made the prosecution untenable. Under this circumstances, it’s amazing they got any plea at all.

      Reply
      1. Steve Wells

        My guess: the missing woman was potentially living in one of the numerous homeless encampments in Anchorage. The state was sending cops out searching for her. The defense attorney (a good friend of mine and a good lawyer, although I haven’t talked with him about this case) likely recognized that Anchorage being a small town, the cops have a decent enough chance of finding her that a no further prison time, non-sex offense plea is a pretty good resolution. Trial is double or nothing because if the cops do find her and she testifies, he’d likely have a great deal more prison time.

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are subject to editing or deletion if I deem them inappropriate for any reason or no reason. Hyperlinks are not permitted in comments and will be deleted. References to Nazis/Hitler will not be tolerated. I allow anonymous comments, but will not tolerate attacks unless you use your real name. Anyone using the phrase "ad hominem" incorrectly will be ridiculed. If you use ALL CAPS for emphasis, I will assume you wear a tin foil hat and treat you accordingly. I expect civility from you, but that does not mean I will respond in kind. This is my home and I make the rules. If you don't like my rules, then don't comment. Spam is absolutely prohibited, and you will be permanently banned.