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.







At this point I would be willing to bet Gascon's public approval ratings are 4x that of Mirkarimi - no joke.

Gascon didn't feel "played" by this pathetic shitbag, lol. Please.... And from Mirkarimi's actions over the past three months, I don't think he could outsmart a corpse. If anything, Gascon is just being politically savvy in joining in on the public beatdown of a guy who's literally become the most disliked SF political figure of the past 20 years.

You - and the Bay Guardian - should do yourselves a wonderful favor and SHUT THE FUCK UP about Mirkarimi. Forever. Marcos figured it out. Greg even did. Hell, Lisa's dumb ass is starting getting the picture.

You and Tim, not so much, lol.

Posted by Sambo on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

Why don't YOU shut the fuck up redneck.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

And I'm sorry you enjoy supporting wife beaters, that sucks.


Posted by Sambo on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

Gascon found out only after the plea about Mirkarimi's legal problems and felt outmaneuvered and embarrassed.

Hint for the Sheriff, NEVER tell a rapacious political rival you are out of cash.


Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

I'm curious how much does your blood pressure SPIKE when you see the words, "ROSS MIRKARIMI." I'll bet it spikes up a LOT! You aint doing any LOL - no way. Any time one has a hatred so intense - a hatred LONG BEFORE this whole case started no doubt - he or she aint doing any LOL.

Check this out:

Better go take your blood pressure medicine QUICK!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

seriously, you just replied to a comment that had nothing to do with what you are rambling about. Dumbass.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 12:04 am

Why didn't Gascon require Mirkarimi to apologize to Phil Bronstein as well?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

This reminds me of the distraction that the prosecution of the Clinton/Monica thing was, masking his role as Governor during the contra gun and drug running out of his Mena, Arkansas airstrip, as well as the same thing w/ Joseph Russonniello and the Barry Bonds frame up, the refusal to touch which earned US Attorney Kevin Ryan's a place on the Bush gang's caging list, so that his replacement, this principal in the murder of Ben Linder (and 10,000s of others) could make a show of posturing against the drugs he was notoriously helping run into the country when he refunded $37,000 in cocaine profits to the anti-Sandinista contras in the 'Frogman Case'. Will Mirkarimi go along with the illegal foreclosure evictions and SFPD death squad murders of Kenneth Harding and Charles Hill (et al) the DA staging this farce has already signed off on? Time will tell.

Posted by Greg Allen Getty on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

I think this post has really put together the conspiracy for us all.

A good encapsulation of how the Clinton Chronicles and 80's drug trade theory leads inexplicably to the Mirkarimi abuse trial.

Thumbs up bro.

Posted by matlock on Mar. 15, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but "misdemeanor false imprisonment" wasn't originally one of the charges brought against Mirkarimi. Rather, it was a compromise negotiated by the DA. The DA himself believed that Ross was guilty of "dissuading a witness", so I don't see how Gascón himself can honestly believe that Mirkarimi is guilty of false imprisonment. If Gascón actually believes the "dissuading a witness" charge is the crime which Ross is guilty of, then the DA should have charged him with that from the beginning. So I don't see how Gascón himself could truly believe Mirkarimi was guilty of false imprisonment.

How can Gascón expect Mirkarimi to "really believe" he's guilty of "false imprisonment", when it's logical to surmise that the DA doesn't sincerely believe that himself?

Posted by RamRod on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:30 am

get dropped in return for admission of others. A plea implies that Ross is guilty of what he admits to and apologises for. It doesn't mean he is innocent of the other counts, and in fact we know that he is not.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 7:23 am

Wasn't Ross quoted about why he took the deal, something about stopping the hemmoraging? The $100,000+ legal fees were hurting the pocketbook and his team kept losing round after round in both the law court and the court of public opinion. Details of the case that trickled out were part appalling, part tawdry and part titilating, but mostly the ordeal of the past two months has severely devaled the progressive label in town with examples of arrogance, superiority, and "truth management."

The DA is always cutting favorable deals with law enforement types. Below is a link to the case of a California deputy sherriff who got less than one year in jail and didn't even have to register under Megan's Law after year's of absuing his step-daughter. One of the few truths worldwide is that the law enforcement agencies - from the military all way down to the local police and sheriff deputies - are the key weapons the government and economic elites use to suppress the masses from seizing the property of the wealthy, and either kicking the wealthy and the politicians out of own or locking them up for their continued economic crimes against working families. It's very important the police and military types are coddled to ensure the ranks continue their alligence to the the economic elites and powerful.

When the court skirmishes are over I suspect we'll see an attempt at political rehabilitation. It may or may not work out for Mirkarimi's future political career, but the effort will make things worse for the progressives who will have to be constantly on defensive about one of its purported leaders. (Frankly, the progressive "team" lost a lot of its political power over the past few years after Ross became one of its most visible leaders, an expected outcome when a team is led by authoritarian personalities verses a collective group of contributing and supporting members.)

Progressives have an excellent chance this year to try to regroup and focus on rebuilding its strengths and developing a broad-based issue strategy for the years ahead. The presidential election is a non-issue in CA. The supervisor races should be fairly easy with strong incumbants running in D1, D9 and D11. And although D5 will be likely contentious among a few candidates who are aligned with the progressive side, it shouldn't be that different from 2004 when the many "progressive" candidates ran mostly civil and respectful campaigns.

With a renewed effort by the Occupy movement currently working behind the scenes, and with broad progressive support for a majority of supervisor candidates, it's a good year to broaden and deepen the progressive base, develop leadership and collaboration skills among its newest members, and try to set-aside past differences over campaigns and tribes. The city is run by a mayor, department heads, and some supervisors who are detemined to turn SF into a place where only millionaires are welcomed to live. And they are very talented since their calm rhetoric makes it seem as if they stand for just the opposite: "we cherish diversity, inclusiveness, middle-income families and prosperity for all." If SF progressives can't find a decent campaign or two out of the current state of affairs they probably should retire or take up a new line of work.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 9:06 am

How many of those convicted of misdemeanor false imprisonment end up in the county slam? Thousands? hundreds? tens? even one?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 8:30 am

Robertson's wants you back in the jar.

Posted by A-non-mouse. on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 10:29 am

I've been kicking your dicks in on this issue THE ENTIRE TIME, lol.

And it just keeps better for me. At this point, it's just victory laps and I'm loving it.

Not my fault you tied yourselves to the biggest trainwreck in 30 years of SF politics. Deal with it.

Posted by Sambo on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

The Bay Guardian wrote earlier this week that Ross is maintaining his innocence. Do you not read your own writings?

Posted by Ryan C on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 11:06 am

Christine, I sent you a private email at KGO earlier this evening (Fri). Please confirm at the email address I supplied that you received it. Thanks, Barry

Posted by barry eisenberg on Mar. 16, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

Interesting that the cocaine evidence scandal didn't seem to bother Mr. Gascon, nor the uncalibrated breathalyzers used in his DUI prosecutions, but the band of shrill sour faces who can't distinguish a bicep pinch from a beating have got him all verklempt.

The harpies have the cat o nine tails out and are giving him and the mayor metaphoric beatings about their manhood and the fabricated"embarrassment of the city". Since when has San Francisco ever been concerned about how outsiders think of her? fortunately never.

Most amusing is the picture of the angry madres women shouting out for faux "justice" while one very pretty woman can be seen in the background...looking utterly amazed at the meanies who want to ruin her life and chastise her for being passionate, fiery,and knowing her own mind. They want to teach her a lesson about not going against their absolutist views. She is the beautiful one, she is Eliana Lopez. She won't obey them.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 9:37 am

calling for Ross Mirkarimi to be removed in light of his plea bargain, and announcing a press conference to say the same.

They'd have more credibility had they not already held a press conference calling for Mirkarimi to resign before he was even tried.

Christine is right, of course. This is a political railroading; it's worthy of the justice systems you see in some banana republic.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 10:01 am

not agreeing with your observations and thus it is a political railroading?

I used to think you were the more rational one between you and Eric...

Posted by matlock on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

Yes, a political railroading by feminists.

Posted by Troll the 14th on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 10:28 am

That would be a first...

Feminists have always been a bastion of civil and reasoned debate, how could they ever railroad anyone?

What Would Andrea Dworkin Do?

Other than eat as ham sandwich?

Posted by matlock on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

A Sheriff who pleads guilty to false imprisonment then turns around and mocks the court and the DA by implying in print that he isn't really guilty -- Come on folks, having this man in office as Sheriff is too low a standard even for SFGOV. it is just plain common sense and in most other jurisdictions in this country a Sheriff in these circumstances would not even consider that he had a right to keep his job, elected or appointed. Mirkarimi is a embarrassment to SF.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

Voted off the progressive island:

1. Feminists
2. Public defender who helps the poor and needy
3. Cuban and other latino immigrants

The island is getting smaller.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 8:27 am

The unjust railroading of Ross Mirkarimi is the proverbial "line in the sand" for progressives. We don't care about guilt or innocence - what we care about is the survival, at any cost, of our only progressive citywide officeholder. This is politics as it was meant to be practiced - raw and bloody, good vs. evil.

Anyone not standing by Ross will be dealt with severely - the old coalitions mean nothing to us. It doesn't matter if you were with us in the past but are against us now - if you do not stand by Ross you are standing with the enemy. You are standing with the 1%, you are standing with Republicans, you are standing with Nazis. You will become the enemy and the enemy will be dealt with.

We are at war and we know who the enemies are. Do you?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

I wouldn't stand behind Ross if all I cared about was the survival of the "only progressive citywide officeholder". Most progressives are aware that this case doesn't help us. But when a man is being railroaded in a case that was highly politicized from the start, it's obvious that he can't get a fair hearing.

If you believe in the right to due process, the right to present evidence on your behalf, to confront your accusors, etc... In short, if you believe in the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments in the Bill of Rights under the U.S. Constitution, then you will fight for the principle that everyone should be accorded these rights, regardless of whether they are innocent or guilty. And regardless of whether it helps or hurts progressives. It's the principle of the thing. And that's why someone like Jeff Adachi stood up for Ross...and why I did as well.

You know, I suspect you trolls love to project your own failings on progressives. You have no principles and that's why you can't understand why anyone would go to bat for Ross. If you want to know the truth, I don't even particularly like the man. All the same, he didn't get a fair shake with Gascon leaking shit to the press every few days, and the media circus that surrounded this case. It was a disgrace.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

The only reason he lost is because he was, er, guilty.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2012 @ 6:31 am

"the right to due process, the right to present evidence on your behalf, to confront your accusers"

In what way, shape or form was Mirkarimi denied those rights?

"You know, I suspect you trolls love to project your own failings on progressives. You have no principles and that's why you can't understand why anyone would go to bat for Ross"

Thanks for the rant. Glad to hear that you understand that we are groping with our own failings and that we have no principles.

The concept that we honestly think that the Progressives have done a lot of damage to an otherwise strong city that we love is beyond your comprehension I guess.

And yes, the Progressive leaders have repeatedly been shown to be men with highly flawed characters. Daly, Peskin and now Mirkarimi.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 19, 2012 @ 6:48 am
Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 3:22 pm
Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 18, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

It is not at all unusual for judges to question pleas made between DA's and defendants, especially if the defendant proceeds to question his guilt on the courthouse steps. You will remember that at the sentencing former bank robbery accomplice Sarah Olson, much was made of her denial after pleading guilty. Per the SF Gate: "She then walked outside the courthouse and told waiting reporters that she was innocent. ...That angered trial Judge Larry Fidler, who called an unusual hearing to demand Olson explain herself"

Typical Redmond. No legal degree, but he's sure something isn't right because after all, he's Tim Redmond.

Posted by SMB on Mar. 19, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

of a case where the Plea should have been made dependent on Ross having to allocute to his crimes. Although this would not affect his punishment at all, it would give the court and the people the satisfaction of hearing Ross in his own words fully admitting his crimes.

It would also have effectively estopped him from questioning the verdict or his culpability. I think the DA is correct here - the judge needs to slap Ross's wrist and demand an explicit, unambiguous evocation of his guilt.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 19, 2012 @ 12:17 pm