Perspective and proportion - Page 3

As the Ethics Commission finishes taking testimony in Mirkarimi inquiry, the evidence on most charges seems increasingly thin

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Ross Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, took the focus as the Ethics Commission wrapped up evidence-gathering in his trial.
MIKE KOOZIN/SF NEWSPAPER CO.

Haynes has a background in domestic violence, undergoing a 40-hour certification training in the mid-90s when she went to work for a domestic violence center in San Mateo for almost two years, then later helping develop and teach a domestic violence curriculum for the jail in San Francisco.

She's familiar with the Power and Control Wheel — the basis for many of Lemon's conclusions — which indicates how physical abuse can be connected to other forms of abuse, such as emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse. It was with this background and training that Haynes questioned Lopez about whether she was in danger and being abused when she got an unexpected call on the morning of Jan. 4.

"She let me know she had an argument with Ross and wanted to talk to me," Haynes said, later answering another question by saying, "She told me she was really worried about custody issues and she was talking to a friend who was an attorney."

That friend turned out to be Madison, who Lopez maintains had represented herself as an attorney who would keep their conversation and the video they made of her injuries confidential, to be used only in the event of a custody battle. The city has sought to cast doubt on that claim — which the court rejected in Mirkarimi's criminal case when it admitted the video as evidence — implying that Madison was simply a concerned friend and the attorney argument was developed weeks later.

Haynes said she asked Lopez whether there had been any prior incidents of physical abuse, whether Lopez felt unsafe, and whether she had been subjected to other forms of abuse — defining each form for Lopez — and that she was told "no" to each question.

"I asked if she thought she was in danger and she said no," Haynes said.

Later on Jan. 4, Lopez told Haynes she had made the video: "She told me a friend had helped me do a video just in case I needed it for custody issues...She did tell me that she really wanted to work on her marriage, that she wanted to make to make it work, but that just in case she wanted to make sure she got custody of Theo."

Lopez later testified that one reason she sought out Haynes was because Madison had suddenly become aggressive in trying to convince her that she was a domestic violence victim and the incident needed to be reported to the police, and Lopez wanted to get the perspective of someone with a background in domestic violence.

"I said, I have a person telling me this, I want your opinion about it," Lopez testified.

Around 12:30pm that day, when Madison informed Lopez that she had called the police and they were on the way, she frantically called Haynes from Madison's house and suddenly put the two women on the phone together, which Madison and the city have characterized as a witness dissuasion effort.

Haynes said she was confused when Lopez suddenly handed the phone to Madison: "She said, 'help me, help me, help me,' and I'm on the phone wondering what's going on."

"[Madison] told me, ‘I've been talking to Eliana for several days and I just called the police,’" Haynes said.

Haynes said she asked Madison if she had called any domestic violence agencies or if she just called the police "and she got very agitated" — adopting a defensive tone of voice — and that reaction seemed "fishy" to Haynes.

Asked whether she tried to dissuade Madison from talking to the police, she responded, "I told her she should maybe talk to her friend about what she wants." She said that she could hear Lopez telling Madison, "This is not what I want, this is not what I want."

So Haynes said she tried to extricate herself from the situation: "I told her I really think you need to get off the phone, talk to Eliana, and respect her." And the phone conversation ended with Lopez getting back on the line and telling Haynes to call Mirkarimi to let him know what was going on.