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.