SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's secretary of state said in a court filing Tuesday it supports campaign officials' position that the recall of a judge for his handling of a sexual assault case should be handled by county and not state elections officials.
The recall of Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky should be managed by Santa Clara County election officials, the attorney general's office said in a filing on behalf of the secretary of state, which it represents in legal cases.
Persky earlier filed a lawsuit arguing that superior court judges are state officers and that any effort to recall them should be filed with state elections officials.
His August 9 lawsuit was filed the same day campaign officials were authorized to start gathering signatures.
Since then, proponents of the recall been barred from collecting signatures to put the recall on the June ballot until the matter is resolved. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
"The real goal of the lawsuit is to delay, stall and cause chaos," said Stanford University law professor Michelle Dauber, who has led the effort to recall Persky.
Supporters must collect 90,000 signatures and be certified for the ballot by March 9, she said.
Persky was targeted for recall after he sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman who had passed out behind a trash bin near a fraternity house. Turner could have faced up to 14 years behind bars.
Persky's lawyer, Christine Peek, declined to comment the filing on Tuesday but appeared at a news conference outside the court.
"Our role here today is to make sure that Judge Persky is treated fairly during these recall proceedings and that's all I can tell you at this time," Peek said.
Dauber said that if recall supporters do not meet the March 9 deadline, they will push to qualify for the November ballot.
"This is going happen. It's not a question of if; it's a question of when," she said. "If he succeeds in stalling and delaying it, it may be pushed to November and that's fine with us, there is higher turnout in November."