Judge Sends Stern Message After College Football Player Misses Community Service

Football is not an excuse to skip court-ordered community service.

That was the stern message from a Palo Alto judge to Keenan Smith, who plays football for the College of San Mateo. Smith, who is on probation for battery, appeared in court Tuesday after being a no-show for a community service work day due to a football game.

Smith, 20, served about a month in jail for throwing his girlfriend to the ground in a parking lot in Sunnyvale last year and beating a bystander unconscious when they stepped in to help.

In Tuesday's probation hearing, Smith was kicked out of the court-mandated domestic violence training because he missed too many classes.

"This kid is being dragged through this and his face is all over the place," said Gary Goodman, an attorney with the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office. "And that's a tragedy."

Goodman said Smith has been struggling to balance school, work, his obligations to the court and football.

"It's work and it's fun for him, but it's still a job," Goodman said. "He has the rigors of football."

Smith in court told the judge he was tired after an away game, which is why he slept in and missed community service.

"I don't think football is a higher priority against violence against women," said Michelle Dauber, an outspoken critic of Judge Aaron Persky.

Persky rule in Smith's case and in the case involving former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.

Turner served three months of a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

Dauber is working to recall Persky, who has voluntarily requested to rule only in civil cases.

"We're talking about Judge Persky now because it was his bias in favor of collegiate athletes that led to this situation," Dauber said.

Smith faced a new judge on Tuesday, who is now requiring him to serve 24 days in jail instead of community service due to his absent record.

"I think justice would have been better served had Judge Persky held Mr. Smith accountable sooner," Dauber said.

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