Gascon and the Mirkarimi plea deal


The Mirkarimi case has taken another strange turn: The district attorney, George Gascon, just told the Chronicle that he doesn't think the sheriff really thinks he's guilty, and wants to raise that at his sentencing March 19.

I find this pretty unusual and remarkable. Whatever you think of the Mirkarimi case (and there are plenty of different opinions), the guy pled guilty to a fairly serious crime -- and Gascon's staff negotiated the plea deal with Mirkarimi's lawyers. Why is he talking about messing around with the situation at this point?

Well, according to the Chron, Gascon was responding to a Matier and Ross column in which the sheriff acknowledged that he owes some hefty legal bills and that the cost of defending himself, and the cost to his family, was a factor in his guilty plea. Gascon is taking that as a sign that Mirkarimi maybe still thinks he's innocent:

"There is a guilty plea here and I know there's almost an attempt (by Mirkarimi) to deny that this has occurred: 'I didn't really do this. I'm being forced to do this.' That's very concerning to me, to be very honest with you," Gascón said in a meeting with The Chronicle editorial board.

That's a fair amount of extrapolation -- Mirkarimi never told Matier and Ross that he's innocent, although (like most criminal defendants) he maintained that position all the way up to the plea bargain. That's what happens in a court case; the accused pleads not guilty, says he or she will fight the charges, proclaims innocence -- and then, in the vast majority of the cases in the U.S. criminal justice system, eventually cops a plea.

Why? There are lots of reasons. The  New York Times had a fascinating piece on this March 10. You might think you're innocent, but won't get a fair trial. You might be innocent, but fear that you can't prove it and you don't want to take the risk of the harsh sentence you might get if you lose. You might just decide that it's better to accept some degree of punishment instead of dragging the case out. You might really be guilty, but not in the way the original charges read. You might be guilty as hell; you just said you were innocent because you were waiting for a good plea deal. This is how the criminal justice system works in the United States.

I called Gascon to talk about this, and he started off by saying, as he did in the meeting with the Chron ed board, that "we're not accustomed to accepting a guilty plea from someone who isn't guilty." If that's really the case, then he's the only district attorney in the country with that policy. When we talked a bit further, he made the point that domestic violence is a special case: "When the defendant goes through counseling, they have to admit responsibility," he said. "I want to make sure he understands what a guilty plea is and what it means." Which is valid -- I agree that step one in any sort of anger-management or DV program is taking responsibility for your actions. But didn't this all come up when Gascon's staff first cut the deal? Isn't it a little late now to have second thoughts?

Mirkarimi has already agreed to go to counseling and take a domestic violence class. I talked to his lawyer, Lidia Stiglich, and she told me that she was "at a little bit of a loss. The sheriff accepted responsibility. We have a plea agreement and a disposition, and I don't see any legal reason why it wouldn't go forward as proposed."

I agree, and have said in public many times, that Mirkarimi has to take responsibility for his actions, has to tell the public what really happened that day, and, like any other defendant who enters domestic violence counseling, admit that he's done something wrong and that it wasn't at all OK or excusable. That's all part of the package.

I just don't get what the district attorney is up to.







We've had posters here saying that Mirk is still innocent, and that his plea means nothing, and that his apology was "forced" and so on. And Mirk has done nothing to dissuade that kind of thinking.

So it seems Ross wants the best of both worlds. He wants to "technically" plead guilty while somehow maintaining an aura of innocence. And that quite simply isn't good enough.

Many times, as condition of a plea, the defendant has to "allocute" to his crimes, meaning he gives a true account of what really happened under oath, but of course with the assurance that he already has a deal. IMO, Ross should be compelled to do that, explaining exactly what he did to cause that bruise, with of course the video shown to ensure accuracy to the other accounts.

It's unacceptable for Mirk to plead to this while continuing to maintain any kind of innocence, either explicitly or by allowing his "supporters" to do that on his behalf. So, yes, I want to see Ross come clean and not try and minimise his admission of guilt. And in fact, if there is any chance he is allowed to keep his job, a condition should be that he admits to his violence.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

Willie Brown probably called up Gascon and chewed him out for giving Mirkarimi a deal, so now Gascon is trying to wiggle out of it. What bothers me is why Mirkarimi's lawyers ran up a crazy bill like that.

Posted by Naz on Mar. 19, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

Mirk was so absolutely determined to try and "get off" that he just threw money at the problem. It's entirely possible that they advised him to simply plead it out early but, if Ross insisted they try every trick in the book, then his lawyers would be obligated to do just that, regardless of their obvious futility.

And when Mirk's legal bill hit six figures (for misdemeanor raps!!) the lightbulb suddenly went off in Mirk's head and he scrambled for a "keep me out of jail" card.

Mirk also may have had a "use it or lose it" attitude. Whatever he doesn't fritter away on a forlorn, doomed defense was money that Eliana can't get in their inevitable divorce.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 19, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

Seriously. He's causing himself all sorts of damage every time he flaps his trap His situation has gotten worse and worse every time he talked to the press. If he knows what's good for him and wants to keep his job, if only for the next three years, he needs to STFU - NOW. And the same goes for loudmouth Eliana as well.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

Unbelievable. He's the Sheriff. Doesn't he know better than to make such comments that he only pleaded guilty because of his legal bills? The guy is totally unprofessional, not to mention not a suitable candidate for the job.

Why does he still have a job? Does anyone know whether a recall effort has been initiated? And if so, can you post a link to it here?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

Anyone know whether there's a recall effort underway?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

the head of an important law enforcement division.

All Ross has to do is apologise sincerely. Yet he cannot bring himself to do that, hiding instead behind claims that he was "forced" to apologise. He should want to!

His arrogance is stunning.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

The mayor is not a king with rights of dismissal.

If Mirkarimi is going to be removed it will be at his own hand or at the hands of the Board of Supervisors. And neither is likely to happen - ever.

We'll have Ross to kick around for the next three years.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

I suspect he will facing open insubordination from his staff, and a total inability to pursue any of his objectives.

If Ross cared more about the progressive movement than his own ego, he would stand down. He's toxic at this point.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

All politicians are in it for themselves. It's a deeply narcissistic calling, being a politician. You're essentially in a job because you've convinced enough people you know what's good for them - it inevitably feeds into a deeply inflated sense of oneself. You're surrounded by sycophantic staffers and supporters who know being in your good graces means telling you what you want to hear - so they do, even when you're wrong. Then you have rags on the left and rags on the right which feed into that ego - and as a result you end up with megalomaniacal assholes in office like Ross Mirkarimi or Newt Gingrich.

In the end the politician cares nothing about anyone but him/herself and maintaining their power. And they'll do anything and destroy anyone to win if they have to - look at Bill Clinton. Or in this case - Ross Mirkarimi.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

It's so sad that to Tim Redmond thinks this is all just a game ("That's what happens in a court case; the accused pleads not guilty, says he or she will fight the charges, proclaims innocence..."). If Ross is really innocent he should have taken it to trial and not plead and taken on the role of a martyr. Lots of people believed in him - it's the least that he owes the voters of San Francisco. And shame on the San Francisco Bay Guardian for endorsing him and then refusing to hold him to task and always looking for others to blame (Ivory Madison, Christine Flores, the moderates who are against the progressives, et al).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

accept that one of his own screwed up and is damaging their supposedly common cause.

There's none so blind as those who will not see.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

what any poor schmuck would have been stuck doing.

Lawyering up every aspect of the trial and trying to technicality his way out of this doesn't lend much credence to the innocent angle.

These intellectual back flips and rationalisations from the George Will left trying to create plausible deniability are just strange. Considering how the Guardian makes the claim that they are a watchdog on government and then making excuses for the weasel Mirkarimi is just comical.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

If Gascon is interested in finding the truth he should grant Lopez immunity to testify and tell her side of what really happened.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

She isn't charged with anything.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 7:21 am

She also said that she and Ivory Madison were laughing just before they made the video. That's in the court record. She told another neighbor that what she had told her previously was an exaggeration, perhaps "overly melodramatic". She has said publicly that the entire incident was taken "out of context". And the couple has yet to tell their side of the story. Yet not one of you thought to question your assumptions for even a moment (even before trial).

Why the hell do you think she would ask for immunity? Could there be more to this story? Yet, you have behaved exactly like a vigilante group, ready to string Ross up without trial, like a Southern jury (circa 1960) or the hysterics in a Salem witch trial. Shame on you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

OK, lets say it was all a big laugh between the wife and the sorta lawyer, then why would she need immunity?

Sorta lawyer goes to cops, wife talks to DA and says it was all over done and a bit of a joke. At that point nosy neighbor just overreacted. Instead wife refused to go along with DA.

This is all second guessing and none of us have sat in on the meetings, so it is all conjecture.

But from my perspective, it was all overblown to begin with, people have problems and shit happens, maybe this would have been a wake up call for blow hard to take it down a notch. Then Ross lawyered up and wife clammed up, after that point the actions of Boss Ross made him look worse and worse.

I would never trust anything that ever came out of his mouth in the first place after watching him on cable access. Not only is he a qualified BS filled loudmouth political crap sack, but he is also a qualified conniving weasel.

Nothing he has done paints him as an honest stand up guy, just a regular climbing political hack.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

So then why not grant it?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

guilt, and has apologized for his sins.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

He said the case has caused problems, for his family and his job.

He did not say I caused problems, for my family and job.

He has not learned from his mistakes and needs to appologise to SF, then we can begin to forgive.

He needs to take ownership and not blame others for his mistakes, we can forgive but so far he seems to still wants to blame others.

Posted by Chris Pratt on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

An honest DA would have granted Lopez immunity to tell what really happened.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

Please share what she could be charged with when charged were filed?

What deal did the DA have to offer her at that point.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

What for?If, for example, she testified that they had a mutually physical argument in front of their child involving loud arguing and bicep grabbing...she could be charged with the same misdemeanor count involving the child that Mr. M. was.

The DA has said he won't charge her this way(his word is not reliable as we have seen here)...but there are other issues,not in local jurisdiction, involving immigration status, over which the DA has no authority.

So ,using one's noggin, it's easy to see they have this family in a box.

Meanwhile, the less than charming harpies from the women's DV groups, who don't know a bicep bruise from a beating, can cackle with glee as the child, the wife and the father suffer unwarranted indignities and pain.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 8:27 am

Poor dear. She's now empathizing with the abuser while berating women's groups as "harpies."

In other words - she sounds like a female version of Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 9:32 am

I know Rush Limbaugh. I gave him his first job in television. Whether you resent his enormous success in broadcasting or not, he is still extraordinarily talented. For all who want him off the air for his most recent, obvious line-crossing, don't you understand that at this point his presence only helps democrats?

I don't believe in psychobabble like the much-mentioned "stockholm syndrome" (see the def. of syndrome as opposed to actual diagnosis.)

I'm not a "dear" or a "deer".

I absolutely know and believe, based on personal experience with so-called "women's groups" in my own federal court litigation, that they often miss the forest for the trees.

In other words, my imagination is large enough to conceive of several hypotheticals where a bicep pinch does not emanate from a "beating" or actual "domestic violence"

The groups here who "just want to help Eliana"..are treating her like a helpless child who doesn't know her own mind. Shame on them and I mean it..utterly.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 10:59 am

If you want some credibility here, don't bleat inanities like you gave Rush his first job, or that you are related to the pope, or that you're hitler's step grandchild. You just end up looking stupid.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 11:24 am

I was surfing third point Malibu when JFK died.

I was managing editor and anchor at KRBK TV in Sacramento when I gave Rush his first job in television. I hired him to do commentaries on our friday evening newscasts. At that time, he had started the show that would make his famous on KFBK radio, a 50,000 watter in Sacramento. Rush was not very good on tv as it turned out, but he was masterful on the radio,as you know.

Later, when he was in New York, doing his national show, I did the afternoon lefty show as the counterbalance on the same radio station. I was in law school then and the job got me through without burdensome student loans to repay. The station was thriving then. It had the full spectrum of ideas from left to right and then some.

I think the current pope is one of the most hideous people alive, wearing his gucci loafters, his ermine wig hats and having his special cologne blended by elite parfumeries. I am just another very disgusted Roman Catholic. I've never believed in papal infallibility, even when a wonderful pope, John XXIII was in place. For your reference, he was the aggiornamiento pope(modernization)

My lineage is tenth gen on my dad's side. My paternal forbears founded Jamestown, VA. My mother's family came from Alsace -Lorraine.

Any other stupid assertions?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

continued to make the same faux pas, let me spell it out for you.

Here, you are assessed only by the quality of what you say and not who who are. People will say anything on the internet to build themselves up, to try and add cred to their words. But we've seen it all before, so save your breath.

If you can't refute my words, chances are I won't be swayed by whatever impressive credentials that you'd like me to think you have. Stick to the facts, ma'am.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 1:11 pm
Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

Write less and read more.

Talk less and listen more.

Try and learn rather than preach.

And nobody cares who you would like us to think you are. In this joint, you're only as good as your last argument, and your lasta rgument wasn't very good.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 7:50 am

While you're dishing out orders about how we're supposed to behave, please make a rule that says whenever we revert to the all-too-often 6th grade smackdown of a poster who had enough integrity to write under their own name, that we sign our name to it as well. Of course that would take some personal integrity and emotional maturity and we know how rare they are on chatboards. Your post is Exhibit A.

And thanks for degrading the Guest label since your comment was hardly very gracious or guest-like. When you revert to your 6th grade persona to post here, could you at least use another name. FauxGreg seems very popular on this chatboard for those with little to add other than attitude, smarm and snark.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 10:00 am

there is no evidence that "Christine" is using "her" own name any more than "Greg" is.

Christine does appear to be new here, however, and came across as trying to "large" her credibility, so if she got slapped down, she only has herself to blame. Seems to me that Greg was just offering some friendly advice.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

Lol, the dumbest post ever! Who cares about you! Being pro -Mirkarimi does him no favors. It only shows that he's got some looney supporters!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

I've never met him or spoken to him. I do, however know a railroading when I see one. I've read the motions in the case, including the one re: attorney-client privilege filed with the State Appellate Court...which has not been heard.

I'm only responding to false statements made about me on this web site, presumably made to keep me silent.

It won't work.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:34 pm


I sent you an important emai privately earlier this evening (Fri) at KGO. Please confirm at the email address I supplied that you received it. Thanks,

Posted by barry eisenberg on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

In Rush's world - apparently yours too - there's only black and white and nothing in between. CC makes the pt that things aren't as black and white as fools like you want them to be and of course, you have to pipe in with (in effect), "how dare you claim things aren't only black and white! - that's the only way I know how to think!"

And the "poor dear" patronizing comment from you is something to expect to come out of Rush's patronizing mouth.

As for your last sentence, it reminds me of the article I read recently about a big hurdle stupid people face - they don't know that they don't know.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

Nor can one be "a little bit innocent." In our system you are either innocent or guilty under the law. What Ross' supporters don't seem to understand is that he is guilty. He has said so, his attorney has said so and now you need to accept it.

The obfuscation involved in this issue on the side of Mirkarimi's supporters is really quite staggering. It's as if they had a personal stake in his success or failure and now that he's failed they're left fluttering around like a bird which has lost its nest.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

If we're talking pregnancy or a math equation, then the black or white approach would be appropriate. But in life, very rarely are things black or white. Fact of the matter is almost everything works on a continuum basis where lots of things can come into play.

And politics - and all those things tied into it like people's economic interests, grudges, past political fights, what actions he took as a supervisor and who's interests were affected, etc - almost always plays a big role in a case like this.

And you might want to read that NY Times article that some people have referred to. Here's the link:

As that article discusses and as this case shows, there's many reasons why someone would take a particular course of action with respect to the law - for instance, Mirkirimi's escalating legal bills are something he has to consider and that's just one. And there's reasons why some people are treated differently than others.

So the notion that "it's all black and white" is absurd. It would be poetic justice if YOU were forced to play the legal game for something that you did that was "wrong" - and then all kinds of things start happening to you (legal bills, prosecutorial misconduct that's excused, etc etc etc) forcing you to make some legal choices you might not have wanted to make.

Time to grow up and realize the only black and white things in this world are pregnancy and math equations. Legal matters are most certainly NOT black and white things.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

RMDS - Ross Mirkarimi Derangement Syndrome is going to be included in the next DSM - it appears there's a sudden epidemic of it in San Francisco.

Symptoms include: intense obsession with Ross Mirkarimi combined with conspiracy-laden musings on his downfall, gathering of Mirkarimi memorabilia including but not limited to Mirkarimi-identified panty collections, repeated viewing of Venezuelan telenovelas (despite not speaking Spanish), intense occupation with Mirkarimi's time as D5 supervisor or elaborate imaginary creation of alternative reality consisting of Ross Mirkarimi as mayor/governor/senator/president.

Presence of any of the above symptoms can indicate appropriate Axis I diagnosis of RMDS.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

The only one with the derangement problem are folks here like you who's hatred of RM is similar to that of the INTENSE HATRED Republicans have of Democratic presidents like former President Clinton and President Obama (no doubt your blood pressure just went up 20 pts seeing the word "President" in front of their names).

You hated RM long before this whole thing and you would have hated him if nothing had happened. You finally got your excuse to demonstrate your obsessed hatred of him by having a fit over anyone who says things aren't black and white in this case and many other cases.

As long as we're going to assign people here with medical conditions, it's obvious you have a bad bad case of "Ross Mirkirimi-induced high blood pressure." Of course you had it long before this thing started - only now it's worse.

Get over it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

Indeed my hatred was so intense I could barely mark him as my #1 choice for that office.

I now feel about Ross prolly the way most San Franciscans feel about Ross - betrayed and disgusted. Comparing his violent outbursts to a consensual affair shows a serious lack of understanding about the nature of domestic violence and a minimization of the seriousness of what he has been convicted of and to what he has admitted.

In other words - another case of RMDS.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

then the chances are pretty slim that she would be charged.

If not then she should be charged and the DA shouldn't grant her immunity.

No matter what happens you seem to think that there is something mysteriously at work.

have you ever read the book, Wilderness of Mirrors? The excuses made around this case by the Ross defenders remind me of this ode to paranoia.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

If chances are slim she will be charged then why not grant her immunity?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

Christine, I sent you an important private email at KGO. Did you receive it? If so please respond to the email address I supplied. Thanks, Barry

Posted by barry eisenberg on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

Seems like the SFBG helped get him into this mess with its editorial this week. That editorial stated that Mirkarimi maintains his innonence. If that's what RM is saying, it's going to piss off the DA.

Posted by The Commish on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

There's a well accepted but unwritten code: If you hold a public position that represents the integrity of our political system then you must conduct yourself accordingly. I was shocked that Mirkarimi didn't announce his resignation at the same time that he announced his guilty plea. It was unseemly.

At this point I don't care if Eliana got the bruise because she is working out to be an MMA fighter. Mirkarimi is unfit to remain as Sheriff just because of his actions after the matter became public. The statements about it being a private family matter, the non-cooperation, the endless attempt to stifle information through silly technicalities. And now, his snide implications that he was railroaded by an unjust system.

Then get your butt out of that system, OK? Stop taking your public paycheck to be part of a system that you belittle in public.

The difference between Mirkarimi and other employees in the Sheriff's Department is that Mirkarimi sets the tone and image of the people charged with the proper care of accused individuals. He is an embarrassment to that system and, with each passing day, shows that his obligation is only to himself and not to the people of the city.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

Everyone does really dumb shit in their lives, most of us do it well before we are fifty.

Mirkarimi's lawyering up and those lawyering antics over the last few weeks, with Mirkarimi's blessing did our boy no good. The antics of the accused just dug the hole deeper for many people observing this in the media. So you are correct, his antics were unseemly.

You do touch on a far right and left commonality, they loath the system while controlling much of it, and when possible trying to take it over to their own advantage.

Mirkarimi is upset that he was ensnared in the system he wants to torment the rest of us with?

Posted by matlock on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

That's not the system at all according to the Fire Chief.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

is just a self centred loud mouth with a huge ego.

Mirkarimi as Ollie North, the Guardian as the right wing press and editorial page authors.

A pathological ideologue who by nature of being right is always right and can do no wrong in his own mind, mixed with a fawning wing of the ideological press casting around for anyway to be apologists.

plausible deniability is the words that come to mind.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

The DA felt played when he learned after the plea agreement that Mirkarimi was feeling financial strain and probably couldn't fight much longer anyway.

The DA is a conservative political rival who wants to destroy a progressive. Why does everyone expect honest motives after watching this case?

The only thing you can expect from the DA is he is going to get away with whatever he can.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:03 pm