More on the Mirkarimi case


I wrote up the Jan. 19 hearing on the domestic violence charges against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, but a few more points are worth thinking about as the embattled sheriff prepares for another court hearing Jan. 23.

For one, the stay-away order that Judge Susan Breall issued doesn't allow Mirkarimi to have any contact with his two-year-old son for the next 45 days. That seems not only harsh but bad for the kid, who doesn't understand why he can't see his daddy and is, not surpisingly, confused and upset. There are no winners in this case (except the folks who would just as soon see Mirkarimi gone and replaced with a more traditional law-enforcement sheriff), but the biggest loser, the one I feel worst about, is the kid. If the judge was really worried about Mirkarimi being a danger to his son (which, frankly, seems like a huge stretch), then she could have authorized supervised visitation. That's not at all unusual in these kinds of cases, and would at least give the child a chance to have contact and a relationship with his father during the period when all of this is being sorted out in adult court.

There's not a lot of talk about the inherent conflicts of interest in this case, issues that come about from a sheriff who was once an investigator in the District Attorney's Office facing criminal charges filed by that same office, which is now run by a former police chief who the sheriff clashed with repeatedly when he was a supervisor. I don't know the law on this or how it could possibly play out, but there's an interesting article about it all here.

It's odd that the conflict piece ran in a publication that makes its living bashing local progressives, but everything about the media in this case is odd (except that fact that it's become an international zoo). The one writer who has talked seriously about Mirkarimi's right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty -- and the only major voice in the media urging him not to step down -- is the Chron's conservative columnist Debra Saunders

Another interesting media tidbit: I don't know Mirkarimi will enough to have any insight into his behavior in romantic relationships, but one person who really does -- his longtime former girlfriend, journalist Evelyn Nieves -- has been quoted only once in the bottom of a New York Times/Bay Citizen story, to wit:

“I was shocked when I read about it,” Evelyn Nieves, a journalist and a past partner of Mr. Mirkarimi’s, said in an e-mail. “Ross and I were together for the better part of a decade — eight years or so — and never once did he even come close to being physical during an argument.”

“It’s just not his way,” Ms. Nieves added. “He was way more prone to proposing that disagreements be talked out. He could talk and talk.”

Again: Doesn't mean he's not guilty. Doesn't mean he hasn't changed. Just interesting that only one publication has even tried to contact and get a quote from Nieves.

I'm not a lawyer, of course, but it seems to me that the defining moment in this case will not be the trial but the pre-trial hearing in which Mirkarimi's lawyer tries to get a judge to rule that the videotape of Eliana Lopez talking about her injury and her fear of her husband can't be used in court. Bob Egelko has an excellent piece here; he points out that if the video isn't admissible as evidence, the case will collapse. If a judge rules (and the legal arguments seem to support it) that the prosecution can't introduce the video or show it to the jury, then I suspect the district attorney will have to drop the charges; if Lopez refuses to testify against her husband, there's nothing else to go on.

But this is a domestic violence case, and judges (no surprise) are political, and how many members of the local bench really want to be the one who ended such a high-profile case (and in effect, let the suspect walk) on what the media will call "a technicality?"







Because he was elected for one thing.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 9:05 am

And certainly would not be re-elected

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 9:50 am

One person's opinion.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 11:26 am

had three pending counts against him, you know?

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

Didn't hurt the fire chief.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

I just think a few of you need reminding...

"The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat, is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty. Application of this principle is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, recognised in many nations. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

have you looked at the two sites for the sheriff lately? both show hennessy's still in charge and mirkarimi is omitted:

Posted by MPetrelis on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 9:21 am

Anything is fair for comment, but not fair to make a decision like this.

Is it a fair comment to suggest the judge is biased? One consideration is that Judge Breall introduced from the bench facts that were not in evidence in the court material and which she admitted influenced her decision for the TRO. She specifically suggested that a factor was that Eliana L. is a relative newcomer to the United States and is here without family support. Eliana L. stood and called the judge down for what she said was a "racist" implication that denied her the dignity and status she is entitled to claim. She also noted that she is not dependent on Ross for income or support, and has continued a successful career in a highly competitive industry.

Is it a fair comment to suggest that the video is dispositive? As a comment, possibly. As a fact, absolutely not. We know nothing of the circumstances of the video, whether Ivory Madison coached Eliana L. statement's before filming, whether Ivory Madison suggested that the video would be useful in a legal proceeding and noted that she is a "lawyer" leaving the impression of attorney-client privilege, or whether Ivory Madison's own record suggests a specific type of bias as her former colleagues have written at

Is it fair to suggest that there is an agenda aimed more at Ross than at Domestic Violence? Certainly it is true that other city officials who have been arrested, even on felony charges of domestic violence, have not then been prosecuted or faced a TRO or even been asked to resign their positions. Not in 1880, but last year. And they were in law enforcement. Are many of those who seek Ross' removal also people who worked to elect another candidate as Sheriff, and might see this as a back-door to overturn the election results? Possibly. It is interesting in a town with a penchant for "what if" journalism, there has not been a single word in the press about who should become Sheriff.

Is it fair to question a system that relies on a verdict initially from the city's Ethics Commission, a body so tarnished that a Civil Grand Jury report last year called it a "Sleeping Watchdog" and that has never acted against an incumbent who votes on their budget?

Perhaps this is a long list of questions, but I see a long list of people who have anwers without asking any questions.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 10:27 am

This is probably neither here nor there so to speak, but is Judge Susan Breall seriously a contributor to Ivory Madison's website,

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

Redroom is sorta confusing. I don't understand why people keep showing up as connected.

I don't think Breall was the actual author of the blog????

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

@Guest ("Fair Comment")

Excellent post. I wish more people would ask probing questions like this instead of assuming that they have all the answers. That was what I was aiming for with my comment, but I'm afraid I flubbed it by proposing an alternative scenario that really wasn't fair to Eliana L. or Ross M. I didn't intend to present that as fact, nor to suggest that the video is in any way "dispositive". I just wanted to get people to see that there could be other ways of looking at the "evidence" by examining it in a different light (by 'reframing' it, if you will). But, as you say, we know nothing of the circumstances of the video nor much about anything else concerning this case. However, I like the questions you ask. I urge others to read and reread your comment because it's by far the most perceptive post I've seen on this topic.

Posted by Lisa on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

What is see here is a failure to consider the crazy Latin girlfriend factor. She drove him to it. Hey, ask anybody whose been with a Latina firecracker.

Posted by Diablo on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 10:29 am

I suppose we're going to be treated this crap leading up to the trial and beyond. It just never stops.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

The demonstration of deluded paranoid thinking demonstrated on this site by Ross supporters, plus greg and his 40 guests is really unprecedented.
I have been following this scene for over a decade, and I dont recall this level of just way the EFF out there conspiracies - EVER.

Mr Petrelis, have you moved on from professionally hating on Scott?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 10:33 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 12:49 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

Is it true that Katherine Feinstein personally picked the judge? This is what a couple posters have claimed. I have no way of knowing, but I've been asking what the process is. Perhaps someone can verify whether this is the case or not. If true, this is just despicable, and almost prima facie evidence of bias.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

Tim, you need to take your "Ross-y colored glasses" off and look at the case objectively and not as a bleeding heart progressive where every decision is politically motivated by the law enforcement community. The D.A. and the judge must be certain that no further violence can occur between Smirkarimi and Lopez and, that the son is not subjected to witness any additional violence between these two supposed adults. And why should the video be suppressed if it shows evidence of a crime? Did you want the Oscar grant videos suppressed or did it fit into your agenda of bringing down the big bad policeman? Why don't you listen to Smirkarimi and let the "process proceed forward." If the Smirk is truly innocent, a jury of his peers (and that includes a few of us conservatives) will decide if he is innocent or guilty of domestic violence. Isn't that all we want....justice?

Posted by ConservativeSF on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

Oh Hell Gavin Newsom's heart was going out to the kids while he accepted Hayes-White's letter recanting his 911 call. Nasty loyalist hypocrites.

"This is a personal matter," Newsom said. "My heart goes out to her kids in particular. This is a family matter, which is never easy, only difficult, and I wish her the absolute best."

-- Fire chief's husband is taking it all back --

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

Ed Lee needs to remove the fire chief before he starts in on the sheriff.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

Dont thing that just because "guest" and "greg" both start with G, that they are one and the same.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 21, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

that you will use here to try and create the illusion that someone, anyone, supports your partisan position.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

Again, I wrote neither of these posts above, including the one ostensibly labeled with my name.

Your whole premise is absurd when you think about it. I have no qualms about attaching my name to my posts, so why would I write other posts saying things I agree with? Oh, yeah, I guess I want to create the "illusion" that there are other people agreeing with me when in fact there are none. Well I guess you don't get out much. Many people agree with me; I don't need to create other online personas. In fact, I haven't posted very much on this topic in days now. But I suspect you know that. You're not doing this out of ignorance. You're doing it as a deliberate attempt to marginalize an opinion you disagree with. It's a nasty tactic, and if I were moderating this blog, I'd consider cracking down on it.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

If you're willing to troll the Guardian blog trying to marginalize me, then it means that when I do post, I'm saying things that really get under your skin. I do find that my posts have really irritated a whole army of Ross-haters.

Well good. I guess I'm doing something right then.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

@Greg. Agreed, same situation with the Cognitively Impaired sad little impster.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

The biggest victim here is the child who is deprived from a father. The judge could have easily allowed supervised visits. I know of a woman who got committed for insanity and still gets supervised visits.

The action of this judge is sadistic and without a question child abuse. The judge should be investigated and based on this action alone removed. I would like to also see her prosecuted for child abuse. I don't think it will happen while Gason is DA.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 10:58 am

Interesting to see that Matt Gonzalez, who saddled us with Mirkarimi in the first place, supported Gascon for mayor~

Posted by Richard on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

He endorsed Gascon for DA, not mayor. I don't see what he has to do with this case.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

It's interesting that Daly endorsed Hennessey for mayor. This must have something to do, something or other.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 5:22 pm


<> Eliana Lopez said: "You are destroying my family". says it all.

The neighbor Ivory Madison has triggered a witch hunt, This case is totally Overblown.

This couple young son, is ironically the one, who will suffer the long term consequences of the very public lynching of his daddy's character and reputation.

The judge reasoning for temporarily braking up this family was that the situation is still volatile, sure, it is volatile (Mostly In the media and on blogs).

Using statistics to justify decisions or opinions in individual cases by bloggers or the court is wrong.

The system needs to be reformed, it is NOT working.

Note: Latino Ladies are among the world's finest mothers, they are the ones who should rise up to defend the dignity and integrity of Eliana Lopez family.

Posted by jccourt on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

Stereotype much?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

Ohmigod, I'm having a flashback--70's feminists running amok...gender court a den of vipers for men because the law is an ass, a clumsy destructive perpetrator of so much unnecessary suffering...

Ross Mirkarimi is a good man and a hardworking public servant who doesn't deserve the treatment he's getting. His marriage apparently has some problems but which marriage doesn't? He and his wife should be given the chance to work things out, which won't be easy in the hysterical persecutory atmosphere that's being generated. The distorted gotcha politics of the Chronicle editorial board for example and staggering hypocrisy of corrupt pols like jaded bigmouth Willie Brown is Shakespearean in dimension. Something's rotten in Denmark.

I hope Mayor Ed Lee doesn't further muddy the waters. Let the justice system, such as it is, work. If there's any sense of proportion and common sense in this town Ross will get the chance to perform the job he won in a free and fair election and he'll make an excellent and progressive Sheriff.

Posted by barry eisenberg on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

fairly simple criminal case.

What would we have done without you?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

He should take it - if the same would be expected of a subordinate- and take the time to work out whatever is going on personally and in his family life. If he is exonerated or even found guilty, then his personal and professional life moves forward. Staying in office is problematic at best.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

Have you fixed your damn CAPTCHA yet

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 22, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

The Chronicle is carrying a story that a girl Ross used to date is claiming he was abusive towards her.

This is getting a little like Herbert Cain.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

Interesting that she's the ex-wife of SFPD Inspector Tony Flores.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

Unless of course you think that a beaten woman is lying? Is that it?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

Ms. Lopez denies the allegation (says it was taken out of context). The second woman has police ties, and may have an ax to grind. Ms. Nieves, who lived with Mirk for close to a decade says that it wasn't his way...that he preferred to talk things out. The man is still innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 6:23 pm
Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 2:55 pm


"... office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris was handling the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

Thought it might be a good time to add this to the mix (seems relevant, and it just came my way):

"The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating." —Jiddu Krishnamurti (quoted by Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication).

So often, life would be so much simpler if we responded in this way. Many of us though, have not trained our minds to do it. Hence, a lot—a lot—of hyperbole, histrionics, assumptions, spurious comments, bad faith, machinations of the mind, false inferences, taking sides, creating stories and biased, unfounded opinions in this case—in this blog and elsewhere.
And now it's up to the courts to do what they do best, and hopefully come to the most true and speedy resolution, based on reality.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

marches is.

“He never punched me, never hit me,” Flores said. “But he grabbed my arm and pushed me against the wall, yelling. This person is very much a pit bull and a bully.”

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

It baffled me why he would give up a policy-making position to take on the Sheriff which, essentially, is an admin and enforcement role. Moreover, as Sheriff, Ross has to implement actions he obviously disapproves of, e.g. evictions and foreclosures.

But now his motive becomes clear. He's a bully, a control freak and a misogynist. And so a law enforcement position gives him an opportunity to exercise power he could only previously dream of.

Except, of course, his past caught up with him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

"The victim said the relationship ended in December 2008 when Mirkarimi confessed to her that he had been in another relationship with a woman from Venezuela at the same time he had been dating her. He allegedly admitted then that he had gotten the Venezuelan woman -- presumably Lopez -- pregnant."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

that he had anger management issues. He has lost my support, and I suspect the support of many people in SF who voted for him. His lawyer should seek a change of venue so that he can get a fair trial. I still support those.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

It's too bad that more people who knew the truth about Ross didn't speak up earlier.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

When all is said and done, one thing that's sure is that this case is giving domestic violence the attention it deserves.
One also has to wonder, in my opinion, if the women (ostensibly) involved in Ross' case even knew enough to set him straight, ie, forcefully tell him that bullying, or whatever form the alleged abuse took, is simply not okay. Because...there's a lot of violence in our culture, so much so, we can take certain things for granted. But violence is *not* okay, and now, I hope, a lot more people who may not have thought much of it, know better.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

@Daniele. A welcome voice, thank you.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

Daniele, you just wrote a beautiful comment about how too many of us rush to evaluate situations without taking the time to observe and reflect. Yet, now you appear to be doing the same thing you accuse others of. That is, you are assuming that Ross was abusive before this case has even gone to trial. Remember, we have only heard ONE SIDE of the story in the press -- this constant drumbeat that makes Ross appear guilty, guilty, guilty. Yet, the evidence in his favor (the testimony of Ms. Nieves, etc) has not yet come out, or has been downplayed by the MSM. Ask yourself, is it really fair to try this man in the press? btw, that was a great quote by Krishnamurti.

"The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating." —Jiddu Krishnamurti

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 6:17 pm