You are probably familiar with the Brock Turner case; he was charged with sexual assault after he was found copulating with an unconscious young woman. While Mr. Turner was found guilty by the jury, the judge sentenced him to less than a year in jail. The case immediately resulted in severe public outrage and called for the judge to be impeached and removed from the bench.
The misconduct hearing was conducted by an 11 member panel. They investigated the facts of the trial, the Judge’s statements from the bench, and his past decisions. The panel reviewed the record and determined that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of bias or abuse of discretion. While the issue of whether or not Mr. Turner’s sentence was fair or justice is certainly up for debate, however, it is important to remember that judges must be willing to dispense just sentences. Furthermore, consider that he is still contending with a recall campaign. Judges need to dispense justice, which includes issuing opinions that the public might find unpalatable.
While the Brock Turner case illustrates that judges are given discretion in setting sentences, it also highlights a disturbing trend. This judge faced serious public scrutiny over perceived too-light sentencing because the defendant was Caucasian and wealthy. The severe public backlash might cow other judges into issuing overly harsh punishments to avoid public scrutiny.
If you believe that you are subject to an aggressive prosecution, then you should contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. The Brock Turner case and the resulting clearance of the sentencing judge may spur other judges to react more harshly than they normally would to sex crime charges. A lawyer can ensure that your rights are respected, regardless of the political climate.
Source: The Guardian, “Judge cleared of misconduct in light sentencing of Brock Turner,” Associated Press, December 19, 2016