Sheriff Mirkarimi charged with domestic violence

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DA George Gascón announces the filing of charges against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
Steven T. Jones

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has been charged with three misdemeanors in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident against his wife, Eliana Lopez, on New Year's Eve, District Attorney George Gascón announced this afternoon. Gascón said a restraining order has been issued that bars Mirkarimi from contacting his wife and child and that bail has been set at $35,000, although he was unaware whether Mirkarimi had been booked yet.

Mirkarimi is being charged with one misdemeanor each of domestic violence battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness from testifying. Gascón said their young son, Theo, was present during the incident. Lopez has refused to speak with investigators, but she has publicly denied that her husband has ever abused her.

Mirkarimi has maintained his innocence, as he did again with Lopez by his side during a City Hall press conference held simultaneously with Gascón's press conference at the Hall of Justice. "We believe that these charges are very unfounded and we will fight those charges. I'm confident in the end that we will succeed,” Mirkarimi said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It was unclear whether the appearance with Lopez violated the restraining order.

Gascón confirmed press reports that Lopez had communicated via text message about the incident with the neighbor who ultimately contacted police – although he refused to disclose or characterize the contents of the communications – and that there was a photo taken of an injury to Lopez's arm. He also said there are indications that this was not an isolated incident and the investigation is continuing. “We have heard there have been other instances,” Gascón said.

The fact that the charges were misdemeanors wouldn't require Mirkarimi's removal from the office he assumed just last weekend if he's convicted, but he has already been required to relinquish any weapons, including his service revolver. He faces a year in jail and three years probation on the charges.

“While we do not relish having to bring charges against a San Francisco elected official, I have taken an oath to uphold the laws of the state of California and as the chief law enforcement officer for the city and county of San Francisco it is my solemn duty to bring criminal charges when the evidence supports such action. No one is above the law,” Gascón said. “Whether this was the elected Sheriff or any other San Francisco resident, this type of behavior is inexcusable, criminal, and will be prosecuted.”

Gascón also said that while Lopez has refused to cooperate, he believes there is ample evidence to bring charges. “A case is always stronger if the victim is willing to testify. However, it is very common for victims to be uncooperative in domestic violence cases," Gascón said, noting that his office filed 771 domestic violence cases last year. He also said, “Regardless of whether the victim supports a prosecution, it is the state's and my office's obligation to ensure the safety of the victim.”

Comments

Innocent until proven guilty. Either you believe in that core legal foundation of our system or you don't. I believe in it.

Without his wife's testimony, the case against him is based on hearsay. What a neighbor says his wife said is still hearsay. As for this neighbor's video, as evidence, there is no chain of custody and it proves nothing.

I continue to support and stand by Ross. I feel bad for him and his family - that they have to suffer through this - a matter that is being exploited by his political enemies. How sad.

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

Yes DLE, it's all political.................

Posted by Che on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

Why is Hennessy being silent on this matter?

Posted by The piper on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

Perhaps he may realize that his opinion doesn't matter because this is now a matter for the justice system? And he doesn't want to waste political capital on his indicted successor?

Could be either of those - or a whole myriad of other options.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

Myriad is not a noun, and never has been. Not picking on you individually - just trying to get people to start using it properly (as so very many do not) . ;)

Posted by defender of myriad on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

"Myriad" is properly used as both an adjective AND an noun. In fact some dictionaries list the primary definition of the word as a noun. Before playing "grammar troll" it's a good idea to make sure that you know what you're talking about. ;-)

Posted by Defender of English on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

Get a life loser.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

get a life loser.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

From Dictionary.com:

myr·i·ad /ˈmɪriəd/ [mir-ee-uhd]
noun
1. a very great or indefinitely great number of persons or things.
2. ten thousand.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

just looked up 'myriad' out of mere curiosity and discovered hat I am completely fucking wrong! 'myriad' -began- as a noun, and it can be used as either adjective OR noun!

which means all of those editors and straight laced grammar pricks throughout history who jumped my and everybody else's case to demand that only the adjective form was correct - were all a bunch of bloody idiots talkin' complete nonsense out of their friggin' behinds!

tight assed wankers!!!

Posted by defender of myriad proves self wrong! on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

My only legal knowledge is from watching TV police procedurals so I was under the obviously mistaken impression that "chain of custody" only applied once the police retrieves the evidence, not when private parties are passing evidence amongst themselves before it comes into the police possession. Your legal insight is very interesting.

The TV shows also mention spousal immunity, protecting sposues from prosecution who refuse to testify against one another. So if he can keep his wife off the stand, there goes that direct evidence too.

And assuming the accused won't stake the stand - as is his right under the constitiuion - the only person who can tesitfy as to what happened that night (and any other instances) is the neighbor, but her tesitimony as to what the wife told her may be barred by the heresay rule, if I understand that rule correctly.

So the pictures, video and text messages are barred by your chain of custosy rule; the wife and accused criminal can't be forced to testify; and the neighbor's testimony is barred by the heresay rule.

Based on your cogent reasoning it sounds like an open-shut case. Acquittals all around after only a couple hours of court time. Thank goodness. The progressive movement has been vindicated and lives to fight another day for truth, justice and a better world. It should be a proud day for progressives everywhere.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

The only right to not take the stand in a criminal trial is the fifth amendment right of the accused.

The state can and does subpoena witnesses to compel their testimony in criminal cases, before a Grand Jury and at trial. Josh Wolf spent the better part of a year in jail for not testifying before the Grand Jury during a criminal investigation.

In order to protect the Mirkarimi family, I am sure that D.A. Gascon will take all steps to destroy it by subpoenaing Iliana after he's imposed a restraining order.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

I was under the impression that one spouse can't be forced to testify against another spouse, especially in a criminal proceeding. What am I missing?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

A brain, you twit!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

You cannot be compelled to testify in a case involving your legally married spouse!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 7:17 am

Spousal privilege does not apply in domestic violence cases. Cal Evidence Code 972(e). It's one of the many exceptions to spousal privilege. Spouses routinely are compelled to testify in DV cases.

And David Lewis: You have been posting the same message of your legal analysis of the charges against Mirkarimi on every board in town. Your analysis is fundamentally wrong. E.g., you don't understand chain of custody. If the neighbor took the video, the police obtained it with a warrant and booked it into evidence, there is chain of custody.

Finally, it's routine for prosecutors to get TROs/stay away orders in DV cases. If they charge someone with abusing their wife, they don't want the person going home to the wife.

Posted by The Commish on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 9:18 am

"My only legal knowledge is from watching tv..."

That first sentence says it all.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

I TOTALLY stand by Ross on this.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

We could be next. Don't forget that Alcatraz is still out there and could be put back in use by Homeland Security at any moment. Now is the time to speak out about phony accusations and political attacks.

Posted by Concerned Citizen on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 9:55 am

Your analysis is biased. Gascon would not file charges unless he thought he could make a case.

The neigbor's testimony, videos, and text messages will be valid evidence.

When a man beats his wife up there usually is not a movie crew filming in.

Ross M. has always come across as an angry man you don't want to argue with, especially in his home.

Your "analysis" just shows so called "progressives" tolerate DV for their own.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 10:20 am

his wife is as sick as he is: a victim of his sick violence. it will keep continuing on and on...she and their child need major psychiatric help...so does this sheriff, who needs to be fired immediately. last thing anyone needs is this violent sheriff.he is guilty...period...she is scared to death to tell the truth...or he will kill her next time..ask any abused woman.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

Um, are you psychic? How do you know he's guilty before he's been tried? You sound high or crazy. Or both.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 12:04 am

David, there is a difference between the standard necessary to find someone guilty in a court of law, and the standard we judge people outside of court.

Mr. Mirkarmi's wife didn't magically get a bruise on her harm. She didn't have a gun held to her head to force her to report the injury to her neighbor or ask her to take a photograph of it.

It is common for individuals who are abused to later recant and hide behind weak claims of "this is a private matter," but the simple matter is that violence against anyone, let alone a family member you are legally obligated to protect and care for, is neither acceptable nor a private concern. Moreover, if one really believes that getting hit by a spouse is a private issue, then one should not go reporting the incident to third-parties or requesting to have the injury photographed.

I do not support or stand by Mr. Mirkarmi or anyone who abuses their spouse. I am proud to be a political enemy of domestic violence and those who perpetrate it, and I and others will continue to fight this battle against domestic violence until we win.

Posted by Christopher Brown on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 11:40 am

I heartily agree with everything the first poster on this comments board has written. Innocent until proven guilty. The rush to judgment has been severe and the press has not done its job. More often than not, they don't even bother to use the word "allegedly." Where is the independent, resourceful journalism that examines why this case was even charged, why the Hayes-White case was not, and has the press bothered to talk to people who know Ross well to get their take on this?

This is a public lynching of an innocent man -- innocent until proven guilty, remember? -- with a complicit, compliant media tightening the noose.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

This is absolutely outrageous! Child endangerment? TRO? WTF?!? Eliana Lopez says she has no complaint, but asshole Gascon decides to appoint himself as her protector anyway! Way to go standing up for the rights of women, asshole! Telling her to shut up and get with the program because he knows what's best for her!

I expected dirtball politics, but forcibly splitting up families against the will of everyone involved is just beyond the pale. Whose interest is served here? What values are we defending with this despicable action?

Gascon is the one who should be removed from office and thrown in jail!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

Seriously.

This is the way DV cases work - this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with the slightest familiarity with how the system works.

What's ironic is Mirkarimi has always been one of the loudest voices for more and more government interference in people's lives and now he's on the receiving end of the blunt force of meddling government. This is a natural outgrowth of the progressive's never-ending campaign to use the government as a tool to modify the behavior of the citizenry and funny enough, one of its prime proponents has now been caught in the very machine he spent years designing to impose on everyone else. Eliana calls this a "private, family matter" but using the progressive vision of society - it's not. Anymore than, according to that same vision, ordering a Happy Meal for your child is a "private, family matter" or choosing to buy a pack of cigarettes at the pharmacy.

It would be funny if it weren't so vulgar and pathetic.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

That Newsom's fire department chief Joanne Hayes-White was let off on a more serious domestic violence incident makes this look like more hardball politics. We should fight this.

http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-06-24/bay-area/17376467_1_domestic-viole...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

Defend the right of an abuser to abuse. And then point out that other politically-connected people have gotten away with the same or worse - so why shouldn't Ross?

That's a defense I am going to love to see progressives deploy.

Posted by H. Monk-Brown CI on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

No I mean if the mayor is going to use the legal system to go after political rivals but allow members of his own administration to continue in office having done the same or worse he should not expect people to seriously consider him the be fair.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 9:04 am

The Mayor has ZERO control over the DA. The DA is a separate elected official. The DA is doing his job by prosecuting allegations of a serious criminal offense.

I don't give a shit if the Fire Chief was or wasn't let off easy 7 years ago. I do know the allegations were investigated, and then ultra-progressive darling DA Kamela Harris made a decision not to prosecute. Perhaps, she truly had insufficient evidence to bring a case, in which case she was legally bound not to bring charges, or perhaps she was corrupt and doing the Fire Chief a favor. Either way, two wrongs don't make a right. As for the Mayor, he cannot know go back and try to remove someone from office over a 7-year old allegation which was investigated and apparently found not prosecutable.

And, even if the Mayor were acting corrupt, as you allege, it has nothing to do with whether a separate elected official, the Sherrif, who is in charge of enforcing the law, should be immune from prosecution for his own violations of the law.

Enough with the crazy blind dogma. There is nothing to "fight." Once a matter goes to court, the court is the only place where it can be decided, and Ross Mirkarimi will have his legal counsel to provide him with his defense against the charges.

Posted by Christopher Brown on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:34 pm

YOU take a civics lesson Chris.

Because yes he f*cking CAN fire her at any time for any reason or for no reason whatsoever. ("As for the Mayor, he cannot know go back and try to remove someone from office over a 7-year old allegation")

Oh hey we already know. You don't have to come out and say it.
("I don't give a shit if the Fire Chief was or wasn't let off easy").

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

Perhaps the most egregious thing about this is, the TRO that bars Eliana from seeing her husband, completely against her will, and bars Ross's son from seeing his father.

In my understanding, a TRO is something that a person has to ASK for, in order to protect them from someone else. I know of no other case where a TRO was imposed against the will of EVERYONE involved, in order to protect a victim from herself against her wishes! Oh, I'm sure that some self-appointed amateur attorney will now explain that this is perfectly legal, but the fact that you don't exactly hear of this happening well... ever... says a lot about the real motivations at work here.

I'm sure Gascon feels like a big man for ripping a family apart.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 12:37 am

the government getting itself involved too much in peoples lives?

The wolf has come and ate all the sheep while you are still crying as the villagers go about their business.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 7:51 am

I can't speak for anyone else but myself, but generally speaking I want government to protect people from *others* when they *want* that protection... protecting tenants against landlords, workers against bosses, crime victims against perpetrators, etc. But I don't want government to protect you against yourself, or against things that people don't ask to be protected from. So generally I frown on things like seat belt laws, helmet laws, drug laws, censorship laws that "protect" us from naughty content, etc.

And of course I recognize that there needs to be an exception for children who can't make decisions for themselves.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 8:07 am

All the laws that Gascon is using are there because of fairness, or whatever the buzz word at the time was when these laws and rules were set.

With the available information I think this is all overblown, after years of progressive hysterics, and you a advocate of all of that. It's comical that now you are saying that the government needs to but out of the life of one of the cities most invasive progressives.

You spin crazy conspiracy theories and complain about the law not being enforced elsewhere etc... But yet again, Mirkarimi wants to jamb the government down out throats and now that he is on the short end of the shit stick, its all so unfair.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 8:17 am

Next time try proofreading before hitting "Save" in such haste, because I can't quite understand what it is that you're accusing me of this time.

I'll ask slowly... can you tell me specifically which law it is that I supported (or that Ross jambed down [sic] our throats) which is now being used against him?

Posted by Greg on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 8:49 am

Greggy, I think what matlock is saying is that you want more government and now that you have government in your life (Or Mikirami life as the case may be) you don't like it. And I am not puff reagind either:-)

Posted by Che the man on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 9:04 am

The problem with this whole affair is that Mr. Gascon has not revealed any proof that Ross Mirk is guilty of anything YET Gascon STILL wants to change the results of a democratic fair election.

In essense, Gascon says he has the power to destroy people's political career based not on a trial or proof but based on his own power that he assumes he has. Power that people like yourself are bending over backwards to give him.

Thus karma would say that you too should have to live by these rules you want for Ross M. That means that it's only proper that you be arrested for something and that without any proof against you or any trial, you too should have to pay a terrible price.

You obviously don't believe in innocent until proven guilty - at least if one is a progressive, Democrat, or liberal.

You go on about too much govt power yet you drool at the prospect of govt power ending the political career of a person who the govt has not provided any proof of wrongdoing. Thus you're either a hypocrite or don't think very clearly because you're contradicting yourself.

And there's nothing wrong with the govt getting involved to increase fairness in society. But innocent until proven guilty is a basic principle of fairness and Mr. Gascon is not practicing this principle of fairness. And that's why the actions by Mr. Gascon should trouble those who believe in fairness.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 2:13 am

What does telling a parent what they can feed their kid have to do with "fairness/"

A ridiculous post on your part.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 7:48 am

There are many ways govt interference increases fairness. This is obvious - heck a redlight that forces cars to stop on the street is govt interference as is a cop that stops one person from beating up on another for no reason.

This is something you can't agree with? I'm the one being ridiculous? Are you posting while terribly drunk or stoned?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

Look, if I hit someone on the street, I would be arrested and prosecuted.

Instead, if I were to choose to hit a family member, an individual who I am legally obligated to protect, I find it strange that some people argue that this somehow makes the situation a "private matter," and we should all look the other way.

Moreover, if Mrs. Mirkarimi so strongly desired to keep this matter private, then she could have made the choice not to report the incident to her neighbor, and certainly not to ask for her injury to be photographed.

The only good news that has come out of this sad event is that it has exposed how morally bankrupt and dogmatic the far left in San Francisco is. It is an old saying that when you go so far in one direction, eventually you come full-circle, and this is certainly true with so-called "progressives" in SF. Although you think your views are opposed to so-called "progressives," in truth they have much in common with you. Extremists are extremists, regardless of their specific political ideology.

Posted by Christopher Brown on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 11:49 am

Thats not true at all C brown.

If the mayor feels so strongly about DV, as he rightfully should, he should remove his Fire Chief for the 911 call her husband placed, and for having the sheer retarded gall to accuse her husband of hitting himself over the head twice with a bottle. Gosh do you suppose that would work for Eliana Lopez, that she bruised her own arm?

That the Mayor does not seem to feel the same outrage for his loyalists that he does for the not always so blindly loyal is a clue for some people....but I guess not others, who are, after all, "loyal."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

I am not aware of of all the details of the allegations against the Fire Chief. But, I certainly agree with you that they should have been taken seriously and prosecuted accordingly. I do not support domestic violence from the Fire Chief anymore than I do from Ross Mirkarimi.

But, you seem to be confusing apples with oranges. The Mayor has zero control over the Sheriff, who is a separate elected official. The Mayor can certainly voice his opinion about the allegations (and he is well within in his rights to state the truth that the allegations are serious), but he has no authority to do anything to Ross Mirkarimi, nor is he doing anything to him. The charges are being brought by the DA, who is doing his job by prosecuting allegations of violations of the law, especially when the accused is in a position where he is supposed to enforce the law (i.e. the Sheriff).

As for the Fire Chief, while the Mayor certainly has more control over her removal, he would certainly have a difficult time getting her ousted over a 7-year old allegation, which was investigated and apparently never prosecuted for lack of evidence (and I would add the decision not to prosecute was made by ultra-progressive Kamela Harris, not the current DA George Gascon).

Again, the issue is not the Mayor, as he has nothing to do with this situation. The issue is that there are serious criminal allegations against an elected official who is supposed to be in charge of enforcing the law, and now he will get his day in court like any other defendant.

Posted by Christopher Brown on Jan. 15, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

well done! the progressive / liberals seem to change the rules as they go and as they see fit.
on the other hand, Ross M has always been there for the community when he was a Sup.
i used to be liberal so i say, screw the rules and I'm giving Ross a pass

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2012 @ 11:42 am

>"Eliana Lopez says she has no complaint, but asshole Gascon decides to appoint himself as her protector anyway!"

So the DA should just walk away every time there is evidence of domestic abuse but the spouse is saying that nothing happened? Or only in the cases where the accused is a Progressive leader?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

No Gascon should be req'd to provide proof before he takes any action against Ross M. If he takes action before Ross is convicted of anything, then Gascon is abusing his power because he is violating the innocent-until-guilty principle.

If Gascon doesn't have to follow this principle, then he can end the political careers, heck he can arrest who he wants without any proof apparently according to all the people here drooling at the prospect of Gascon ending the political career of Ross M without Gascon providing proof of Ross's guilt.

Better take a second look at what you're advocating. You might win the battle (Ross loses his job and goes to jail) but you'll lose the win (losing the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and thus now being vulnerable to an unfair prosecution and unfair punishment).

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 2:36 am

Last paragraph is supposed to say:
"Better take a second look at what you're advocating. You might win the BATTLE (Ross loses his job and goes to jail) but you'll lose the WAR (losing the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and thus now being vulnerable to an unfair prosecution and unfair punishment).

Damn brainfarts!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 2:43 am

wrote anything that implies or suggests that I support a police state, nor did I claim that Mirkarimi is guilty. If you can provide evidence to the contray, please do.

Posted by Michael W on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 2:58 am

that was not directed at me. My apologies, "Guest".

Posted by Michael W on Jan. 14, 2012 @ 3:19 am

I'd like to fry Gascon too, but only because he didn't make the dissuading a witness charge a felony, which is what is required in a case like this involving a high level law enforcement official.

I'm sorry, but the people we pay huge salaries and pensions to uphold the laws involving the judicial and criminal investigative process need to be held to higher standard. Trying to coerce a witness or obstructing an investigation by a powerful politician - one of the highest law enforcement officers in the city - should have led the DA to charge the much more serious felony in this case rather than a wrist-slap misdemeanor.

The US has changed quite a bit in the past 20 years when it comes to spousal and child abuse. The law seems to recognize that co-dependencies and other psychological factors often make it difficult for spouses to be truthful or forthcoming about what is going on behind closed doors, yet society has a keen and justified interest in stopping spousal and child abuse whenever possible.

I have no doubt that under the current rules my dad and many of the fathers of my elementary and high school classmates would have been charged for their sometimes physically abusive behavior. Belts, hairbrushes and the common harsh striking of kids were fairly common when I was growing up. Whether our families would have been better off if our dads had been prosecuted and maybe barred from the home is a very difficult question. Obviously stopping physical abuse is good and maybe would make it easier to live without abusive aspects in our own behavior as adults, but the parent-child bond is fairly important too along with the reconciliation that comes with forgiveness and redemption.

These family issues are among the most difficult of all prosecutions since often we're a product of the abusive environments we grew up in, even if we really want to change our behavior. I'm not using this an an excuse, but just stating the fact that growing up in an abusive household makes it much more difficult to be an abusive-free adult.

This isn't a simple case by any means and we haven't even seen the purported text messges. The accused is one of he highest ranking law enforcement officers in the city. Society is taking a strong stand against trying to stop physical, sexual and psychological abuse, especially against spouses and most certainly against young children who are the most vulnerable.

The child endangerment and dissuading a witness charges make this an entirely different case than we have been speculating about for the past few days. But let's wait for the evidence to be presented in court before we rush to judgement whether Mr. Gascon is playing gotcha politics or if evidence presented in court bears out the initial charges.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2012 @ 8:34 pm