WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

THE STANFORD RAPE CASE

UPDATE BELOW

The internet is aflame with the sentence issued to Brock Turner by Santa Clara, California Judge Aaron Persky.

Here are the facts: Turner was a freshman on the Stanford swim team. He came upon the victim, who was impaired by alcohol and unconscious, and raped her over a garbage dumpster. Two students walked by, Turner tried to run. They tackled him and held him until the police arrived.

The sentence: six months prison, 3 years probation, lifetime sex-offender status.

Rape is never ever justifiable. Let's start the discussion with that. 
Now let's ponder this: should rape be a crime different from robbery or theft or fraud, or aggravated battery or attempted murder in which the sentence is severe with no possibility of remorse and rehabilitation? 

Victim advocates will correctly say that our last statement written by someone who was never raped, and who defends people charged with crimes, and doesn't fully understand the lifetime physical and emotional problems victims suffer. True. But this is a discussion that is important. 

The letters: Two letters were read at sentencing. One by Turner's father, one by the victim. 

The Father's letter: 


First of all, let me say that Brock is absolutely devastated by the events of January 17th and 18th 2015...He would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have that night to do over again. In many one-on-one conversations with Brock since that day, I can tell you that he is truly sorry for what occurred that night and for all the pain and suffering that it has caused for all those involved and impacted by that night. He has expressed true remorse for his actions on that night.”

...
His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve...That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.
Dan Turner said he and his son were “totally in awe” of Stanford’s campus, and noted with pride the school’s 4 percent acceptance rate.
“He excelled in school that quarter earning the top GPA for all freshmen on the swim team...What we didn’t realize was the extent to which Brock was struggling being so far from home. … When Brock was home during the Christmas break, he broke down and told us how much he was struggling to fit in socially.
“In hindsight, it’s clear that Brock was desperately trying to fit in at Stanford and fell into the culture of alcohol consumption and partying,”
“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,”
“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression...You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his lack of appetite. Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself. I was always excited to buy him a big ribeye steak to grill or to get his favorite steak for him. … Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist"

Rumpole says: This letter is tone deaf. But it is a father's letter, written from the heart, about the  self-destruction of his son's life. 

We're going to conclude with the victim's letter, but here is what is happening now. The judge issued the sentence after a trial on the issue of consent. The sentence was roundly condemned by the prosecutor and in social media. There is a drive to recall the judge or have someone run against him in his re-election bid. The father's letter has been criticized . 

Our question is much simpler, and yet harder: You are the judge- what is the sentence? 
UPDATE: A reader wrote a great comment. What do think the sentence would have been if the defendant had been African-American or Hispanic? What if the defendant wasn't a college student but a janitor at the college? Same age, but not a student. Excellent questions. 
Now here is the victim's letter, powerful and simply devastating, starting off with "You don't know me, but you've been inside of me." Read the whole letter. It is as powerful recitation of being victimized that we have ever read. 



36 comments:

Not JAFI anymore said...

This isn't the 21st century I was promised. I was promised flying cars, space tourism, colonies on the moon and explorers to the stars. Instead, we get the internet and the lynch mob.

What's the right call here? How can anyone say. I didn't hear the evidence. Even then, we all know that the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is rarely the result of a trial. But I know I am just sick of the mob.

And get off my lawn.

Anonymous said...

He faced a maximum of 14 years under California law. I would sentence him to 4 years state prison followed by 10 years of sex offender probation with eval and treatment, registration as a sex offender, no alcohol/intoxicants, and drug/alcohol eval, treatment if needed.

This is not a case about getting too drunk. I was in college once and drank to excess more than I care to count. I've never raped anybody. I don't know anybody who has and they have all consumed as much, if not more, alcohol than I have.

Alcohol does not rape people. People rape people. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which in turn, may lead to a rape, giving the offender the "courage" to carry out his crime.

Brock Turner is not an example of binge drinking gone wrong. He is a sex offender. His brain is wired wrong, no matter how smart he is or how fast he can swim.

I think we've gone crazy with inserting race into every issue but I think it's warranted here. A poor black kid accused of the same thing would have been sent to prison. No doubt. I have black clients who have served more time for drug offenses and probation violations than this rapist will ever serve.

The victim's impact statement is gut-wrenching and I encourage all to read it. Especially us defense attorneys who forget that our sex offender clients inflict great harm upon their victims.

Let's not downplay the criminality of this incident. Brock Turner is not a 21st century creation - entitled, rape-culture wealthy white millennial male. Brock Turners have existed on college campus for decades.


Anonymous said...

Yes he is sorry, because he got caught. His daddy speaks for him but he didn't admit anything. He thinks about what his life could have been and regrets his actions, he doesn't regret that he did it at all. He impacted her life in a way that will take years to overcome if at all. A lenient sentence from me would have been 5 years followed by 15.

Anonymous said...

The kid's crime was a vile one and, as I understand it, the 6-month sentence departed from the law, which carries a two-year minimum. Between that and the 14-year maximum, 5-8 years sounds right to me.

But here's what else is troubling: You have this recall effort, fronted by a Stanford law professor, mounted by those who think the sentence was too light. Never mind taking an appeal if the sentence was unlawful. Nope. When a judge doesn't rule the way the screaming throng demands him to rule, he should be recalled. Because we really only want judges to be the conduit through whom mob rule can flow.

Anonymous said...

Had the defendant been a person of color with everything else being the same, I would bet anything he would have been sentenced in years not months.

the trialmaster said...

She got drunk and put herself in this situation. One has to be responsible for one's actions. Not that it excuses what he did, but she has to take some blame for passing out and laying behind a dumpster with her legs spread open. And where was her sister? If she was the oldest one at the party, isn't she the most mature? Judge should have given him more time maybe a year or so. She still can sue him for damages in a civil action and get justice that way. He is probably a bright guy with a locatives future and with a nice judgment he will be paying for his 20 minutes for a long time.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was molested over 10 years ago, and her life has never been the same since. Neither has mine. As soon as I found out about the abuse I put her in counseling, which continued for years. I hoped things would get better; they did not, and have gotten much worse in the past six to eight months. She was recently released from her second lengthy stay in a psychiatric facility since December. She suffers from depression, PTSD, anxiety and self-esteem issues. Last year at this time we were talking about college; my goals now are to keep her alive and hopefully she will graduate from college on time. I could go on and on, but you get the picture. As for her molester, his guardian tried to ship him out of state. My perseverance and some contacts within the criminal justice system were what brought him to justice. The guardian could not have cared less what happened to my daughter, and went as far as to accuse me of ruining his and the pervert's lives.

The father's comments make me sick. As a parent, I understand his concern for his son. Pardon my language, but his son fucked his own life up. And he fucked up the victim's life tenfold, something daddy ignores. If father and son were real men, they would have acknowledged the harm the son did, and he would have accepted responsibility and realized the horrible, lasting damage they have done to the victim. In such an instance, a sentence of two or three years would be appropriate. But since spoiled kid seems only concerned about himself, if I were the judge, I would have maxed him out.

There is something to be said for acceptance of responsibility and realizing the damage and pain you inflicted upon someone else, and none of this was present in this case.

Anonymous said...

This is why I prepare my client's family for a sentencing hearing. Boy did that dad say the wrong things.

Anonymous said...

Six months in jail is a joke. 2-3 years would have been a light sentence. The sentence trivializes the crime, demeans the victim, ignores the jury and makes voluntary intoxication a defense when the law rejects such a claim. The judge wiped his ass with the victim and gave this rich kid a pass. He deserves to be challenged in his next election, and he deserves to be ridiculed for his lack of judgment.

Anonymous said...

5 years.

Anonymous said...

Trialmaster - thank you for stating the unpopular but obvious truth. While Brock Turner is reprehensible and should spend years in prison, women need to be aware that Brock Turners are everywhere, waiting for easy prey. Ladies - I love you, I care about you, I want to protect all of you. Please don't put yourselves in situations where stuff like this happens. I don't leave my car in a bad neighborhood at night with the door open and the keys in the ignition. It's not my fault when I wake up and find my car gone, I sure as hell didn't want it to get stolen. The individual who stole the car is the criminal, not me. But without proper foresight, I put myself in a situation where I became the victim of a crime.

Ladies - go out in groups, look out for each other. Don't drink until you are unable to function.

Nushin Sayfie took flack for commenting, during an accused rapist's bond hearing, about the rape of a drunk woman walking the streets of Miami during Ultra. She said, "this is why I don't let my kids go to Ultra." Some said she was victim blaming. I think she was spot on.

So much of self-defense doesn't involve striking an opponent. It's situational awareness. By and large, a lot of these rapes of unconscious/over-intoxicated people, are preventable. It is incumbent upon women - and men too - never to lose control, and if they do, to make sure they are surrounded by people they trust.

My heart goes out to the victim and I think the 6-month sentence is shameful.

Anonymous said...

Saw almost the same facts in front of Singhal in Broward maybe six months ago. He gave the defendant ten years FSP. No one complained.

Anonymous said...

5 years

Anonymous said...

At least three years - and even that would be a light sentence

Anonymous said...

Poor white guy, black guy, latino guy or any other poor person or member of minority group gets hit with 3 to 5 years prison for this same crime against the same victim.
Institutional racism/classism is here and it ain't going no where.

ScottAfrica

Anonymous said...

At least three years - and even that would be a light sentence

Anonymous said...

W/H CTS if he agrees to forthwith donate his penis to a transplant program and to have the operation videotaped and posted in youtube.

Anonymous said...

So-called Trialmaster - your view of this situation is disgusting. Last I checked, people who drink too much don't deserve to have their body cavities violated. Those who take advantage of the weak, the vulnerable, and yes-- the drunk -- are predators, and they should be treated as such.

Rumpole said...

Character is what you do when no one is looking. I'm sorry Trialmaster, we don't condone in any manner taking advantage of vulnerable people. Should the young woman have been drunk? Nope. Let he or she among us who has not sinned and drank too much cast the first stone.
The fact that she was drunk does not give anyone the right to rape her. What if instead of being drunk she had a seizure?

This young man- who has a father who is clearly anguished and my heart goes out to him- has a serious character flaw. What he should have done is take her safely home. That is the son this father was trying to raise. But somewhere, something went wrong.

Tragic sad case, but I have to say, having thought about this for a while, I don't think a sentence less than ten years is appropriate. And this from someone who mostly doesn't believe in prison at all. But for this young man, who preys on incapacitated women, he needs significant punishment.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see anyone saying that this girl deserves to be raped, or condoning the rape. It's just stupid to infer that from the comments that have been made. You mean, if someone says that she didn't deserve to be raped, she will become unraped? No, wait, if he had gotten jail time, then she becomes unraped, because that is the solution.

You can tell your daughters that nobody has a right to touch them and simply leave it at that because in your fantasyland that's how things should be. But that doesn't mean that's how they are, much less that you should criticize people for saying things as they are.

Nothing that happens to this punk now will ever erase what happened to this girl, which she didn't deserve in any way, but which she probably could have avoided by not putting herself in a position that a predator could capitalize on. In your world predators don't exist. In real life they do. And, they aren't all in jail or Influenced by telling them they have no right to . . . (fill in the blank).

So, besides telling my daughter that nobody has a right to do anything to her she doesn't want, I am showing her the letter. I want to demonstrate what happens when we don't look out for ourselves. I want to demonstrate that nothing that anyone does to this guy will erase what happened to this young lady, and just how devastated she is. I want to demonstrate that the only things that would have erased this, had to take place BEFORE it ever happened, by not drinking to excess, going places in groups, and being situationally aware -- always. In other words, look out for yourself.

Amazing that in this age of racial and gender obsession it is looked down on to empower a woman by saying you are not only responsible for your own safety but more than capable of ensuring it. It's just hypocritical to say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Gee, sure am glad that this judge was trusted with such great discretion, he sure did a jam-up job. Good thing there were no minimum mandatory sentences to tie his hands.

the trialmaster said...

In fact, if the defendant had not been caught running away, the complaining witness never would have known that he had sexual intercourse with her and there would have been no mental anguish by the complaining witness. Not that the defendant is excused for such egregious conduct but just saying.............

Anonymous said...

A lot of Monday morning quarterbacks on this board. Judge's are screwed any way you look at it. If he maxes him out, He would be vilified as a judge who did not take mitigating circumstances into consideration in sentencing a young twenty year old first time offender, (albeit serious crime) and just punted. Yet, he used his discretion, which people on this board are always screaming for, and now he is vilified as a racist whom has no concept of what he is doing. I don't agree with the sentence the judge handed out, but I would be a hypocrite if I came on this board and condemned the judge, when I am relying on that discretion on a daily basis for my clients.

the trialmaster said...

I think the judge was courageous knowing the kickback he would receive. We need more like him that stand up for what they think is a just sentence based upon his experience on and off the bench.

Anonymous said...

The appropriate race question is not: All else being equal, what sentence would a person of a different race have gotten? I think most people intuit the same unfortunate answer to that question--i.e., a harsher one. The better race question is: All else being equal, what sentence should a person of a different race have gotten? The answer is, of course: the same sentence as a person of this defendant's race. It is a better question because it's answer leads to, and does not avoid, the most important question: what sentence should that be?

Anonymous said...

the mob is out with the pitchforks. this defendant is screwed for life. his lawyer did a good job. are you guys defense attorneys or what?

Anonymous said...

The only thing more sickening than the crime, if the facts are as bad for the defendant as what has been reported, is the media/social media fueled attack on the judge. The judge presided over the trial and our system of justice places the responsibility for determining the appropriate sentence on his shoulders. He knows what factors to consider in arriving at that decision and the fact that the public wants to substitute its' judgment for his is an example of what is wrong with this country today. Technology has given every ignorant idiot with an agenda a platform for his/her rhetoric. The media helps these morons by further publicizing their complaints and by seemingly taking the side of the ignorant masses. Judges are supposed to make decisions based upon the law and the facts, while incorporating the wisdom and perspective they have acquired on the job. I have noticed an undeniable trend in recent years of judges making the "safe" decision for fear of the potential political fallout. This is a VERY BAD thing. I fear that this case will simply serve as another reminder to judges that in this day and age the media/social media mob will be quick to lynch them for a decision that is unpopular with the masses. Regardless of whether it was the RIGHT decision under the circumstances....

Anonymous said...

8:13 - If sentencing this predator to prison would not unrape the victim, then prison for murderers should be out of the question, because incarcerating murderers does not resurrect the dead.

Sure it is a good idea for people not to get drunk. They also should not go out after dark. They shouldn't live in a high-crime area. They should not work in a 7-11. They should not be cops. They should not serve in the military.

See, there's lots of risky behavior out there - some is voluntary and some is not. When people take those risks, if someone deliberately hurts them - then the person who inflicts the injury deserves punishment. Tell that to your daughter, too while you are dispensing such sage wisdom.

Anonymous said...

5 years. The first 2 of which are with Bubba in cell C-236.

Anonymous said...

My child got sentenced to 7 years for punching a man in the face 1 time and this guy rapes a girl and gets 6 month, difference is my child 19, is brown dark skin Latino in Broward County and this is a white preppy college kid. Too many times the Color of your skin or your last name garners you a harsher sentence. White man's justice. Most times it's just easier being white.

Anonymous said...

9:32, I get that you have a cause. And I get that you fancy yourself a modern day crusader for woman. But being such an ideologue obviously affects you ability to process things, since I didn't say any of what you say I said. Your response is idiotic and whiny. Comparing getting pass out drunk at a frat party and ending up in an alley with some random dude is exactly . . . NOTHING . . . like being a cop or working at a 7-11. You owe me a minute of my life for having to try to comprehend such abject stupidity and disconnect from reality.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that this case should have been tried as an attempted homicide.

A) He had built up a tolerance and did not appear drunk to the men who apprehended him.
B) He seems to have steered her over to a dumpster and she was covered in debris to the point of shedding it by the hand fulls when she got to the hospital.
C) How did she get to the point of advanced drunkenness? What was his role in this?
D) It seems quite possible that she would have died of alcohol poisoning and thrown away like trash without the intervention of those grad students.

It looks to me as though the ball was dropped in this case on multiple levels. I think it may be that people noted the sexual component and didn't get past that. But I think this may well have been a more serious, and disturbing, crime.

Anonymous said...

8:42 - if you are commenting on this blog at 8:42 on a Friday night, a minute of your life aint worth much. both of your comments were sexist and obnoxious. no wonder you have no action on the weekends.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand the outrage. He only fingered her and did not have intercourse with her. The Judge took all factors into consideration and rendered a fair and reasonable decision. She bears some responsibility by getting stone faced drunk and passing out. And she was not even a Stanford student. Probably just a "townie" looking for a free drunk at a Stanford party.

Anonymous said...

Generally, the United States should have mandatory military service for all, and prior to entry into college, 2 or 3 years in the armed services for the purpose of, inter alia, national defense, character formation, and maturity, of young men and women. Conscientious objectors can serve in VA hospitals instead.

There should be a national debate on banning fraternities, which too often facilitate drunken parties that lead to sexual assault. (and also foster racism and elitism)

DUI laws should apply to pedestrians. (and already do in some jurisdictions). Drinking should be banned at or around colleges, college dorms, and frat houses, or limited to events where the ID of party-goers is verified by law enforcement (at private expense), with ongoing monitoring of the attendees. Intoxicated persons should be removed from such events, and transported by LE to a medical facility to monitor the person’s health, and to serve as a short-term drunk tank, followed by long-term treatment in a rehabilitation center. Make the process expensive, like current DUI laws, to aid in preventing recidivism.

Its probably too late (socially) to make and enforce sex rules for unmarried persons at or around colleges, college dorms and frat houses. But when violation of existing sexual assault law turns on he-said-she-said, coupled with the current degree of proof required for conviction, and the adversarial process, the results are not adequate for the parties, LE, the courts, or society.

Something must change.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. The person posting at 1:05 on a Saturday, talking about no action on the weekends. You wouldn't know what obnoxious or sexist was if it came with subtitles. You've just jumped on the grievance bandwagon and don't have a clue about . . . well . . . about anything really. Sort of like having political correctness turrets syndrome. You keep implying that women possess neither the intelligence nor the wherewithal to look after themselves and I'll keep saying just the opposite.