Mirkarimi removal efforts are already getting ugly — and there's still much more to come
On several critical procedural questions, the commission sided with the Mayor's Office, ruling that the commission decision needn't be unanimous, that guilt could be established based on a preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt, and that normal rules of evidence won't apply, with some hearsay evidence allowed on a case-by-case basis.
The pro-mayor decisions angered the roughly 200 Mirkarimi supporters who packed the commission hearing and an overflow room, many bearing blue "We stand with Ross" stickers and flyers, which had "Respect Eliana" on the flip side. There were only a couple of Mirkarimi critics at the hearing wearing white "I support Casa de las Madres" stickers, referring to the domestic violence group that has been calling for Mirkarimi's removal since shortly after the incident went public.
Mirkarimi got a rousing welcome from the crowd when he arrived at the hearing, his voice choking up and eyes welling with tears as he said, "I cannot tell you, on behalf of me and my family, how grateful we are."
The crowd was boisterous during the proceedings, loudly reacting to some claims by the deputy city attorneys and offering comments such as "Ed Lee is the one you should put on trial," with Hur finally recessing the hearing after an hour and having deputies warn audience members that they would be removed for speaking out.
Renne, a career litigator and the District Attorney's Office appointee to the commission, raised the most doubts about both the standard of guilt and rules of evidence being lower than in criminal proceedings, telling his colleagues, "I have some reservations."
Mirkarimi's team also released to the Chronicle and the Guardian redacted phone records from Mirkarimi, Lopez, and Linnette Peralta Haynes — a family friend and social worker who served as Mirkarimi's last campaign manager. The city has sought to portray Haynes, who has not been cooperating with the investigation, as a conduit to Mirkarimi's efforts to dissuade Lopez and Madison from going to the police on Jan. 4.
Mirkarimi previously told the Guardian that he was unaware that Lopez had told Madison about the abuse incident or that they had made a video of her injury until several hours after Madison had called the police and they had come to the house to talk to Lopez, during which time Mirkarimi was in a series of meetings at City Hall.
The phone records seem to support that claim. They show that Lopez and Haynes — who is close to Lopez and recently went to Venezuela to visit her — exchanged a series of telephone calls on Jan. 4 starting at 11am. Their longest conversation, nearly 40 minutes, occurred at 11:18am.
Neither woman could be reached to describe the substance of that call. At 12:24pm, Lopez sent Madison — with whom she had been communicating by phone and text over the previous couple days — a text message indicating that she didn't want Madison to report the incident to police, but that she would instead go to her doctor to document the injury.
A minute later, Madison called the police to report that Lopez had been abused by Mirkarimi.
Starting an hour later, the records show, Haynes and Lopez called each other but didn't connect until 3:31, when they had a nearly 14-minute phone conversation, presumably discussing the fact that police had visited the house, with Lopez reportedly giving the phone to Madison at one point so Haynes could talk to her.