Beyond the video

Supervisors will weigh Mirkarimi's arm-grab against larger, precedent-setting issues

|
(124)
Eliana Lopez displays her bruise in the infamous video at the center of the case against Ross Mirkarimi.

steve@sfbg.com

The Board of Supervisors received the official misconduct case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi this week, with a majority of Ethics Commission members urging supervisors to give more weight to the 45-second video that started this sordid saga than the voluminous record they have compiled at great expense over five months of hearings.

Yet Chair Benedict Hur, the commission's sole vote against finding that Mirkarimi committed official misconduct, last month argued that supervisors shouldn't take such a narrow view of this decision, expressing concern about the "dangerous precedent" of removing an elected official for conduct unrelated to his job.

Ironically, Hur will be the one presenting the commission's case to the board later this month, a decision his colleagues made because the other options weren't good and because they said he has been so knowledgeable and fair-minded through the process. While Hur is likely to play it straight, the supervisors will have an opportunity to elicit his true perspective — raising questions that will be central to the sheriff's future.

Will supervisors see their decision as a matter of showing zero tolerance for even minor acts of domestic violence, as Mayor Ed Lee and some women's groups are urging? Or will they see this as governmental overkill in pursuing a punishment that doesn't fit the crime, overturning an election and giving mayors too much power to go after their political rivals?

Is this just about Mirkarimi and his actions, or are there larger, more important principles involved in this unprecedented decision?

In the video, Mirkarimi's wife, former Venezuelan soap opera star Eliana Lopez, displays a small bruise on her right bicep and tearfully tells the neighbor who filmed it, Ivory Madison, that Mirkarimi caused it the previous day, Dec. 31, and "this is the second time this is happening." She also said that she wants to work on the marriage, but that, "I'm going to use this just in case he wants to take [her son] Theo away from me."

Lopez last month spent more than three hours on the witness stand being grilled by Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith and Ethics commissioners, explaining why she made the video and how she believed Madison was an attorney and their conversations were confidential. She repeatedly insisted that she was not a victim of domestic violence and criticizing city officials and prosecutors for persecuting her family and taking away her husband's livelihood.

There was nothing in the testimony that obviously impeached Lopez or hurt her credibility. To many observers -– particularly Mirkarimi supporters, who made up the vast majority of those giving public comments to the commission -– her testimony marked the moment when the city's case began to unravel. Indeed, on Aug. 16 the commissioners voted unanimously to reject most of the charges that Lee filed, including witness dissuasion, abuse of authority, and impeding the police investigation.

In the end, there was just that video, and commissioners on Sept. 11 added a final statement into the record that they believed it more than anything Lopez has said since then. Even Hur said that he found it compelling, and that more may have happened on Dec. 31 than Lopez and Mirkarimi have admitted.

But there really isn't much evidence to support that belief, and Hur said in August that it shouldn't matter anyway. If the city's vague and untested official misconduct language can apply to low-level misdemeanors unrelated to an official's duties, he said, "we are opening this provision up to abuse down the road."

 

Comments

Lol, the video is the only credible evidence. Eliana's and Ross' testimonies were laughable and Peralta-Haynes' testimony was floor rolling hilarious.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

“In an interview about her noir writing, Madison observed “I realized recently that most of my fiction is about ineffective female assassins.”
(Courtesy of Larry Bush CitiR). quoting Ivory Madison in HER own words
Assassin: noun
a murderer, especially one who kills a politically prominent person for fanatical or
monetary reasons.

Ivory
“I found that it was much easier for me to lobby legislators about domestic violence than to leave my abuser. Even after I finally escaped, I didn’t want to think about my victimization. I wanted to be a hero. I still do.”

Ivory seeks longs to be the hero ….regrets her passivity in her own stated DV situation…finds Eliana in a custody dilemma ….coaches her [in sworn affidavit from Eliana to make that video ] Ivory sets the stage gets her emotionally primed “screw him” and lights action camera. Importantly the EC members Studely Liu and Hanyon stated they were swayed MOST by the video (look at the transcript) Ivory didn’t give Eliana the black and blue on her arm but she did highjack that unfortunate situation and make into something else and the Willie Brown/Ed Lee syndicate in turn highjacked the unfolding situation created by Madison.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

Dwelling in the past JC, ethics has made there recommendation and that would be official misconduct on Ross' part.
Let's try to keep up and stay focused.
You bashed
Madison, Williams, Gascon, SFPD, Herrera, Lee, Keith, La Casa, Olague, Pak, Brown, Newsom, other commenters, the Chron, the Examiner, the judges, the ethics commission, the DV consortium, etc..etc..,
What a motley Crüe of conspirators that want Ross gone.
Hey, just idea for your narrow-mindedness, how's about placing all this mess on the one who started it, Ross?!
Oh wait, he's your holier than thou politician, so what if he abused his wife.
Very truly pathetic.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 10:30 am

You appear to be a mean-spirited fellow. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

I thought you said you don't chastise people.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 3:52 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

I know exactly what it means, and it's what jccourt just did.

Posted by Guest (the same one) on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 6:13 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

An observation or a remark would be more accurate. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 9:56 am

Have to agree with KrisKraft on this one.

Stop The Madness!!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 10:36 am

Why don't you people come out and give us the real reason for your hate. Being honest has the benefit of at least making sense. Right now the haters just look dumb.

Posted by Akvanediv on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

Don't believe there is much hating, just a whole lot of people that do not approve of a sheriff who abused his wife to remain being a sheriff.

Seems to be a whole lot of anger and hate coming from Ross supporters, though. Which seriously contradicts the perspective that progressives are a peace loving bunch.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

Progressives are NOT a peace loving bunch.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 10:32 am

Injustice. This case is about injustice. In time the people will understand that.

The Mirkarimi's supporters are not angry or hateful Guest. You are being disingenuous as usual. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 11:31 am

Again... What about all your vicious slander aimed at the "victim", Eliana Lopez? How about all the comments about how she supposedly is just out for financial gain, without any evidence to support that claim? And those of you who imply she's a liar? Isn't that hateful? If you get a response equaling the venom you've been spewing, it's because you are being downright malicious and cruel to Eliana. Aren't you supposed to be on the side of the "victim"? What do you have to say for yourselves?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

The haters have used reprehensible rhetoric of straw man -- which is tantamount to ad hominem attack because it imputes to the opponent an argument not being made which tends to bring into disrepute their character or quality of their intellect. For instance, claiming that those objecting to the biased ethics process or disproportionate charges or legal process for Mirkarimi don't believe in domestic violence prosecution.

Haters impute hypocrisy to the Mirkarimi defenders, claiming that Mirkarimi defenders would hypocritically applaud the same process if it was being worked on a political opponent, without any basis for doing so.

Haters argue at cross purposes: on one hand, efusively and piously referencing the importance of defending women from DV, but then mercilessly attacking the putative victim Eliana Lopez as being only interested in pecuniary matters.

Most of all, the anti-Mirkarimi haters regularly express gleeful emotions when any decent people would feel pity; for instance when the court ordered the separation of Ross from his family and his own son; or when Eliana, being separated by court order from Ross, leaves to spend time in her native Venezuela; with the hater's baselessly pronouncing her to be gone from his life for good.

Most tellingly, the anti-Mirkarimi haters regularly imposter Ross Mirkarimi's supporters in order to impose disreputable speech on them; a severe form of ad hominem attack.

The minor amount of hatred reflected back at the anti-Mirkarimi haters is a minor reflection of the original source, but it certainly exists.

I personally despise reactionary anti-Mirkarimi haters, but it's because of long personal exposure to all the above behaviors.

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

lilli, is there anyone opposed to Mirkarimi's reinstatement whom you wouldn't characterize as an "anti-Mirkarimi hater"? Or are there only two sets?

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 7:57 am

"But there really isn't much evidence to support that belief..."

Except the testimony of a bunch of witnesses. Yes, I know the Ethics Commission disallowed a lot of it for their purposes, but that doesn't mean what Madison, Merterns, Williams, and the rest said they experienced didn't happen.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

domestic violence . Mr. Mertens, in his declaration, describes how he went through the Mirkarimi household one day when Ross wasn't home. Mertens was sickened to the point of puking when he spied a framed photograph on the wall, an Edward Weston nude.Revolted by Mirkarimi's lack of decency, he nonetheless agreed to support a fundraiser for the sheriff's election efforts. There's a lot of kinky ,curious stuff to this story. Mrs Mertens in her slip carressing a man wearing a wife-beater t shirt adds to the quirks. See www.citireport.com Ivory Madison:In her own words.She's the lost autodidact in Baton "Rogue". I kid you not, a real character whose motivations as a female vengeance superheroine should be explored.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

Mirkarimi was still a member of the Board of Supervisors and sheriff-elect at the time of the incident, and was not officially sworn in as sheriff until Jan. 8.
In a response filed today by Herrera, the city attorney derided that argument.
He wrote that if it is true, "then there is a period of complete immunity between election and the oath of office for every new or continuing elected official to commit any kind of reprehensible act without the possibility of removal from his or her position of public trust." (Courtesy of Bay Citiz.)

This is an interesting issue that has an answer in it (for those with legal interests) Herrera contends the Charter amendment “Can Do” whatever the immediate situation calls for a legal chameleon it can refer to this now and tomorrow broaden to encompass the new one (that is the charter A. changes to fit the need and can be called upon to be or do something else tomorrow with new EC members imagining what the voters wanted) The lawful solution is the law is its own explanation
Honestly square shooting here the law is what the law says and that is Sup Ct. stuff…
Expediency even if it provides justice for an instant case CANNOT rewrite the law or its interpretation even IF it were “to serve” justice or anything else. The law must be applied as the Voters approved it in the charter amendment. Its easy to see any other interpretation throws our system of laws and democracy into disarray (the charter amendment as approved by the Voters is the 4 corners of it) SO Herrera argument that the charter amendment SHOULD be interpreted in a way to allow it to go back in time (when RM was not official i.e. 12/31) so to apply vs. RM goes against what the Voters approved period.

Herrera’s rationale “so the elected official wont plan to rob the bank between election day and the day he is sworn in is not just STUPID it also is stupid legally and lacks jurisprudence for the law cannot be a chameleon. So to apply the Official Misconduct A. in this case even if RM was not “official” goes AGAINST the 4 corners of what the voters approved. Because the “official” of O.M. confines the law (in time) to when RM was “official” and being a supervisor cannot serve as proxy for that. The 3 attorneys of the EC going in were finding RM guilty they then had a big problem reverse engineering how they got there and the logic FORCED them to be as stupid as they were. They had to “play with time” and put RM in the “TIME MACHINE”: when he wasn’t there when he was not official etc another part of the antics of the 3 Stooges is they rewrote the amendment (by interpreting it) (the voters want this and the voters meant that) is was laughable if this were not so serious.

This reading is what any appeal court process will reach NO matter what the BOS does so if the BOS sustains the EC decision this will be the most disruptive solution when the FAIR application of the Charter should state simply the arm grab didn’t occur when RM was Sheriff. AND if the Voters want to include the time between Election Day and the day the elected official is sworn in they are free to do so but this amendment cannot sing and dance to the tune needed at the time. The voters have the recall and if the Sheriff robbed the bank he would be in jail. The approved amendment only discusses the time WHEN “official” in official misconduct WHICH could not refer to this instant case and whether the arm grab was an offense pertaining to the “official duties” of the Sheriff, Ben Hur made clear this case was a “personal” offense [personal does not equate to the “private” in the discredited “DV is a private matter”, no it is not not “public” offense (pertaining to the duties of office) If the voters want the Official misconduct to pertain to non duties of the office holder they can do that also this amendment isn’t Sammy Davis Junior it cant sing dance and tell jokes it can only do what it “SAYS” no more.
]

Posted by Guest on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

Renne of the EC and Keith the Mayor's attorney made an effort to point out that Ross was Supervisor (a public officer) on 12/31 implying this could be a stand in to get past the fact that he had to be "Official " during the Official Misconduct the BIG problem for the Mayor's case with that is the other prong (of Official Misconduct Charter A )is the offense must be tied to the "official duties" and because the duties of Sheriff and Supervisor are totally different that analysis cannot survive judicial review one cannot represent the other. That demonstrates the Mayor is trying this case in bad faith but forward they go blinded by their desire to own another elected office patronage piece and the blind support to solidify their control. Importantly the Sheriff controls the ballots on election day Ed Lee controlled by Willie Brown is steeped in voter fraud money laundering and BALLOT fraud can anyone feel safe thinking Ed Lee is has HIS appointees controlling the ballot box when the Chinatown ballot fraud was filmed and in broad daylight and witnessed by reliable witnesses( George Gascon FOUND “insufficient evidence” end of the investigation and that ballot fraud that had to be ONLY the tip of the iceberg.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

Brilliant I couldnt have said it better myself

Posted by thatsthewayitis on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 8:56 am

No one doubts that.

Posted by Hortencia on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

Since when is it up to the board to decide whether to remove an elected official from office.or not. The options for removing those elected by the voter include impeachment, recall and voting for their opponent in the next election. Elected officials work at the whim of the voters, not other elected officials.

Posted by MisBeaHaven on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 10:41 pm