The group fighting to oust the judge who came under fire for his handling of a sexual assault case involving former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner turned in its recall petition on Thursday.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky drew criticism nationwide after he sentenced Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman who had passed out behind a trash bin near a fraternity house. Critics blasted the sentence as being too lenient.
After spending months gathering signatures at Stanford University, farmers markets, San Jose's Christmas in the Park, and other community events, volunteers filed in to the Santa Clara County Registar of Voters office on Thursday with 11 boxes containing 95,000 signatures in support of recalling Persky.
Officials now have 30 days to verify those signatures. If 58,634 signatures are verified, Santa Clara County voters will take up the issue during the June election.
Group Pushing to Recall Judge Persky Submits Petition
Michelle Dauber, who chairs the comittee that is leading this effort, said the volume of signatures collected speaks to the outrage over what she says is Persky's troubling pattern of decisions in cases regarding women.
"The voters of Santa Clara County are saying loud and clear: Hold accountable ... athletes and privileged offenders who commit offenses against women," she said.
Jennie Richardson, co-director of the Recall Persky Campaign, echoed the same sentiment.
"As we’ve seen recently, with the #MeToo campaign and 'Time's Up,' there’s been a cultural shift where people are starting to hear victims," she said, "and believe them."
A group called Voices against Recall, however, supports Persky, saying that such a move over an unpopular, but legal decision is inappropriate and sets a dangerous precedent.
In a statement submitted to the registrar without specifically referencing the Turner case, Persky indicated that he did follow sentencing guidelines.
Group Pushing to Recall Judge Persky to Submit Petition
"As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims," the statement read. "As a judge, my role is to consider both sides. California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders. It’s not always popular, but it’s the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor."
If voters oust Persky, he will only be the third judge in California to be recalled since it became an option in the early 1900s.
In December, Turner filed an appeal. In the 172-page appeal filed in Mill Valley, Turner's legal team said the initial trial was "a detailed and lengthy set of lies" and asked for a new trial. Turner's team is also looking to overturn the convictions against him, which mandate he register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
NBC Bay Area's Robert Handa and The Associated Press contributed to this report.