City case speculates about Mirkarimi's interference with investigation

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has faced intense media scrutiny, but now the matter moves into the realm of evidence.
Luke Thomas/Fog City Journal

The City Attorney's Office laid out much of its case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi yesterday when it released a list of witnesses and their expected testimony, as requested by the Ethics Commission, and it offers little support for the city's accusation that Mirkarimi dissuaded witnesses or sought to destroy evidence of a crime, which are among the most serious allegations in the official misconduct case against him.

The longest and most significant section in the brief was the testimony of Ivory Madison, the neighbor who initiated the police investigation into whether Mirkarimi physically abused his wife, Eliana Lopez, during a Dec. 31 incident that she subsequent reported to Madison, who made a video of her story and a bruise on her arm.

It was the most detailed account yet of what happened from the perspective of Madison, who has refused media interviews, and it differs in some key areas from accounts that Mirkarimi gave to the Guardian and other media outlets.

For example, Mirkarimi said he grabbed his wife's arm in the car during a heated argument and that tempers had cooled by the time they went inside. But Madison is expected to testify that, “Inside the house, Sheriff Mirkarimi pushed, pulled and grabbed Ms. Lopez, who was crying and screaming, as was their son. Ms. Lopez asked Sheriff Mirkarimi to stop, and said look what you're doing to our son. Ms. Lopez then ran out of the house. While both inside and outside the house, Lopez was yelling, do you want me to call the police. When Ms. Lopez yelled about calling the police while outside, Sheriff Mirkarimi said no, come inside. Ms Lopez went back inside.”

It is unclear from the memo whether Madison was a direct witness to those events or whether they were relayed to her by Lopez, but it sounds like the latter given that the story is in a paragraph that began with the phrase “According to Ms. Lopez.” Since the incident, Lopez has consistently denied that Mirkarimi abused her and downplayed the conflict. The only other neighbor on the witness list, Callie Williams, wasn't at home during the conflict, but she's expected to testify that Lopez told her about that and an earlier instance of abuse and that “Sheriff Mirkarimi was scared that she was going to tell people what happened.”

While Madison's expected testimony confirms Lopez's account that the video was made to be used in the event of a child custody battle if the couple divorced, Madison's account paints Lopez as actively worried about her safety: “Ms. Madison suggested calling the police. Ms. Lopez was afraid that the police would not believe her and would not protect her from Sheriff Mirkarimi, and was concerned about what the police could do to protect her.”

It also confirms what journalist Phil Bronstein, a friend Madison called for advice, told the Guardian about Madison's initial call to police being a simple inquiry and that she didn't intend to initiate a police investigation just yet. And it indicates that “Ms. Lopez was unhappy about the investigation. Ms. Lopez called Linnette Peralta Haynes (Sheriff Mirkarimi's campaign manager in the November 2011 election) on her mobile phone. After speaking with Ms. Haynes, Ms. Lopez handed her phone to Ms. Madison. Ms. Haynes attempted to dissuade Ms. Madison from cooperating with the police and attempted to persuade Ms. Madison to lie to the police.”

Yet there is nothing in Madison's expected testimony to indicate Mirkarimi was behind any of these efforts, and he denies it and says that he wasn't even aware that Lopez had talked to Madison or made a video or that police had been called at that point. Peralta Haynes, who sources say is in the late stage of a difficult pregnancy, hasn't cooperated with the investigation so it's obviously speculative on the city's part to indicate that she was acting as Mirkarimi's “agent” in thwarting the investigation, as the city is claiming.

The only “evidence” that the city seems to offer in support of its accusation that Mirkarimi tried to thwart the criminal investigation comes from Madison's husband, Abraham Mertens, who is expected to repeat the claim he first made in a controversial March 20 op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle that, “During the time that SFPD inspectors were interviewing Ms. Madison on January 4, Mr. Mertens received a telephone call from Eliana Lopez urging him to make Ms. Madison stop talking to the police. Mr. Mertens heard Sheriff Mirkarimi's voice in the background,” a more resolute version than Mertens had previously given when he wrote in the op-ed: “I recognized what I thought was Ross' voice in the background.” Mertens also has not answered Guardian calls.

Mirkarimi categorically denies that he was present during that phone call and says that he was in meetings at City Hall and that he wasn't aware that any of this was happening at the time. And he has denied urging Peralta Hayes to get involved, but her testimony could evolve into evidence if the city can show they talked before she spoke to Madison, but that's still speculative. The city is seeking live testimony from Peralta Haynes about her communications with Mirkarimi on Jan. 4 and before.

During the recent Ethics Commission hearing on setting up procedures for the hearing, Mirkarimi attorney Shepherd Kopp noted that the city hadn't done key interviews or collected physical evidence (such as phone records or the Lopez video) to support its charges against Mirkarimi before making its allegation, something that Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith didn't dispute, noting that the the city had not yet received much of the evidence that it intends to present, such as the video.

The city appears to be banking on compelling incriminating testimony from Lopez and Mirkarimi, who they plan to treat as hostile witnesses. The other interesting name on the city's witness list was Mayor Ed Lee, who the city is recommending give live testimony and who could also likely be subjected to a vigorous cross-examination that could have interesting political ramifications.


I suppose you don't remember Bush defenders claiming that the reason he was going down in the polls was because of lies in the unfreindly "liberal media." What an fn joke.

Now you impute hypocrisy onto liberals. It is completely the other way around and you can only point to your own suppositions as examples to the contrary. Again.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 05, 2012 @ 9:29 am

I actually consider myself pretty liberal on most issues. Nice Try.

Posted by Dnative on May. 05, 2012 @ 10:25 am

Not being part of the solution, you are the problem. Consider yourself whatever you like: you reveal your true self to others by your statements.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 05, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

You make no sense. I state that I don't support Bush and that I am pretty
Iiberal and now I am the problem?

Seems to me that intolerance of others opinions and beliefs, something that most liberals should support is something that you really lack. Sad for you.

Posted by D. native on May. 05, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

Oh you do, do you? Well that's rich. These days many people consider themselves something that they clearly are not. Many people have a false view of themselves. You a liberal? Ha!

You have rushed to defend conservative Scott Wiener at every opportunity. With "liberals" like you, there's no need for conservatives.

Up = down, left = right, peace = war.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

Only in SF is Scott considered a conservative. It seems the progressives see things very black and white. Either you totally agree with them or you are a conservative. Very open-minded and progressive.

Posted by Dnative on May. 06, 2012 @ 7:25 pm



In fact, I have spoken to very few progressives in San Francisco who support Mayor Lee's (i.e. the Downtown machine's) political witch hunt.

Posted by guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

obviously he isn't a wife-beating bully.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 03, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

The only fart around here is you Anon -- no doubt an old fart too, since you have so much free time (24/7) to post your fatuous comments here. Why not get a life instead of making a nose hair stinging stench of this site. The respectful thing to do when you've just lit one is to move the hell away!

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

And most of the people I know who have a lot of time on their hands are young: students, artists, activists, the homeless and the unemployable.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 06, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

I mostly log on this site to see what Tim Redmond has to say, but occasionally something pisses me off enough to comment. Frankly, your explanation sucks. I don't know many students or artists (etc.) who have this much free time. They're usually studying, working on projects and doing something useful with their lives, unlike you. So I stand by what I said, you are either an old fart with nothing better to do, or you're being paid to highjack the threads on this site for the purpose of discrediting progressives. Which is it?

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

last time I posted here" and then follow up with "I stand by what I said (before)".

Whoops. Double oops.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

are you really that stupid?

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

Progressives are not the majority in Sf then. At least too bad for Ross.

Posted by D. native on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

Too bad for you that it is not just progressives who support the sheriff. Former mayor Willie Brown, political columnist Debra J. Saunders and Public Defender Jeff Brown, who "isn't his (RM's) biggest fan", are among the mods who have stuck up for Mirkarimi. Saunders said she was struck by how flimsy the city's case is. As she put it, "A city that doesn't let government into the bedroom watched, even applauded, as the criminal justice system divided a family that wanted to stay together. [...] San Francisco tax dollars shouldn't be used to investigate what a couple said during an argument."

Posted by Guest on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

That leaves 30% who think he should scramble to try and retain power so obviously that 30% is a fair number. It's just not even close to a majority.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

Now if you want to overturn the results of an election, there is a proper way to go about it. It's called a recall. Only then will you obtain a valid result. Anyone can throw around poll numbers. But any politically savvy person will tell you that the way the questions are framed may serve to bias those being polled. So, the only valid way to find out what the voters really think is to hold another election. But I guess you only care about subverting the will of the voters (& democracy) through this political witch, right?

Posted by Guest on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

Either Ross loses his job because he is fired or because he loses a recall election. He cannot hold that office with no public support and with this stigma all over him.

He's done - stick a fork in him.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

is still providing all the facts needed for completely uninformed and ignorant commentary.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 04, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

and "moot" isn't the same as "mute" which is what you should be on subjects you clearly do not understand.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 05, 2012 @ 7:02 am

The City Charter- also voted on by the people allows for jsut this process that is taking place.

Posted by Dnative on May. 06, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

support for Ross is now considered a "plus" in the SF progressive community.

Posted by Troll II on May. 04, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

Having support across the political system is never a bad thing. I think you're going to find, as the case goes along, that more and more reasonable people of all political persuasions will step up and say, this is getting absurd. Why are spending precious tax dollars on such a flimsy case? It's too kafkaesque. Enough already!

Posted by Guest on May. 04, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

What support he has is almost exclusively from the left. It's surprises me that even 30% still want him to stay.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 05, 2012 @ 7:01 am

the news story, not of "voters." You are freaking hopeless. At least you now acknowledge that it is "poll" and not "polls?" What a bottomless pit of vile rubbish you are.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 05, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

70% reject Ross's right to continue given that not much more than 305 originally voted for him anyway.

And since then he has abused his wife and lied about it.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 05, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

the sloppy poll you have misrepresented on several levels does not say that "70% reject Ross' right to continue." The sloppy Corporate Blather Syndrome push poll has a similar percentage of the target group opining that he should resign. A *smaller* percentage said Ed Lee was justified in his action.

The only one lying about wife abuse that you need to be concerned with is *you*.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 05, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

The guy is absolutely, positively done. Had he put half as much thought and effort into defending himself as you are, he might have been ok. But he has absolutely blown this in an epic manner.

61% of people want him to *resign*. Just 29% want him to remain in office. Once again, those aren't simple approval/disapproval numbers, that's people actually wanting him to resign.

I'm sure you'll have an odd excuse for these numbers, but you shouldn't. This is just a shitty, shitty position for you to take on and you should let it go.

Posted by sambo on May. 05, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

The poll was conducted at the height of the propaganda war against the sheriff before he'd had a chance to defend himself. It was a push poll clearly because the question was prefaced with the editorial that "Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in exchange for the dropping of three more serious charges." So were they lying -- or was DA Gasbag when he said the charge was equally serious?

Both obviously; like just about every lying dirtbag Republican in the world.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 06, 2012 @ 10:43 am

Want him out. To me that is even more damning than 70 % of voters because these people are informed and have read up on it. Ross is screwed.

Posted by D. native on May. 05, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

... stream and before Ross had a chance to tell his story. The validity of the sloppy push poll is suspect for so many reasons besides as I've already explained elsewhere. Besides the editorial nature of the way the question was prefaced, one other suspicious aspect of the poll was the elimination of the 5% of the respondents who averred when asked if they followed the news: were some or all of these respondents actually saying that they knew that Ross had not had a chance to tell his side of the story?

The truth -- which I don't think you could see if it hit you in the kisser -- is that the San Francisco Chronicle and their right wing imitators on telivision are the biggest voices of news and they were almost unalloyedly propagandizing against the sheriff.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 06, 2012 @ 10:50 am

How many times are you going to use that line?

Maybe if you use it enough times, it might be correct once?

Posted by Anonymous on May. 06, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

The people were manipulated and used. If they only listened to you Lili and got the full story they would totally agree with you. How arrogant.

Posted by Dnative on May. 06, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

And some look warm support from Willie that he should keep his salary. I actually agree with Willie that he should keep getting paid. Other than that, Willie really hasn't come out with a lot of support for Ross. Just isn't there.

My opinion- there are 3 factors at play stopping progressive politicians from coming out for Ross.

1. Genuine disgust/belief he needs to go.

2. Fear up being painted by the Ross brush. Think about it he manages to win the court fight and keeps his job. Next he has to deal with a recall effort. Come out for Ross and now you risk a two for one recall effort.

3. For the members of the BoS- they have to remain neutral.

Posted by Dnative on May. 05, 2012 @ 7:02 pm
Posted by lillipublicans on May. 06, 2012 @ 11:24 am

Never ever called him a progressive. Was jsut pointing out that Willie has not come out in support of Ross, other than to say he should be getting paid. Sorry if you took it the wrong way.

Posted by Dnative on May. 06, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

Jason Grant Garza here ... ah, Dissuasion ... what an INTERESTING concept ... what about THOSE that live in GLASS HOUSES and NOT THROWING STONES? What do I mean by this? I have case # 110081 at the SUNSHINE TASK FORCE (MINISTRY of SUNSHINE) where I was seeking to receive my own MEDICAL RECORDS for denial of SERVICES at Tom Wadell Health Clinic under DPH and at the NOVEMBER 2011 hearing ... the TASK FORCE was told by DPH upon INCORRECT advise of City Attorney which I disputed, challenged and am NOW trying to ESCALATE to Mr. Herrera for INVESTIGATION into the not only the INCORRECT ADVISE but also the following MALTREATMENT by staff. Listen to the HEARING TAPE for case # 11099 May 4th 2012 ...
When I call to follow up since I still HAVE NOT HAD the PLEASURE of PROPER FOLLOW UP instead I received a letter informing me that I should not contact the city attorney. When I continued to call ... I was even warned that there would be a "RESTRAINING ORDER" sought ... is that DISSUASION or MAYBE EVEN "WITNESS TAMPERING?"

I sure would like to know if WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER ... I mean what about ethics or a "STANDARD of DECENCY, Good Faith and RIGHT ACTION" ... am I NOT entitled?

Type my name into a google search engine and read how I went to FEDERAL COURT (2003) when the city broke the law (2001) (C02-3485PJH) and had my case dismissed with "TESTILYING" only to (YEARS LATER) SIGN (2007) a confession (Settlement Agreement with the OFFICE of INSPECTOR GENERAL admitting fault and guilt and paying a small fine to them) and NOT the INNOCENT VINDICATED VICTIM which was left for DEAD. I still await the ETHICS for behind being "LEFT for DEAD." (2012)

My, I have the PROOF (DOCUMENTATION) not SPECULATION ... so why is this NOT being looked into and RESOLVED and instead I have the DOCUMENTATION of the continuing DISSUASION ( No response, followup ... passive or active dissuasion)... DOES the LAW ONLY APPLY to ONE SIDE?

As I said ... I am NOT DISSUADED into NOT CONTINUING ... where is my DUE PROCESS?

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on May. 03, 2012 @ 9:50 am

^ who's the lunatic?

Posted by Mirrorman on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:54 am

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics

As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice.

I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.

I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminal, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.

I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen enforcement.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

Why would Madison lie? hmm, let's see she runs a blog and good publicity could generate more business for her. If she really cared about the victim, she would have called the police immediately, not Phil Bronstein, a notorious journalist. If a friend gets cut, do you run and get a band-aid or do you go get a reporter and a photographer?

Clearly theirs was a martial spat-to what level it rose we will never know due to sensationalistic journalism. I have my doubts that it was DV.

What I do know is a family was destroyed in a process, La Casa diminished in my eyes as a culturally competent agency, and tons of Latina immigrants will think twice before sharing any stories..this was the more damaging aspect of it all. A teachable moment about communication and relationships...sunken by political predators. However in a society that does not put value on the life of an immigrant woman and her voice, I don't think Lee or Herrera cared about that aspect to begin with....nor the Commission on the Status of Women for that matter.

And to me it's disgusting to go after a pregnant woman, in a difficult pregnancy, for show. I hardly think she tried to dissuade a witness, Ms. Peralta Haynes, is a seasoned professional, having worked on the Campos campaign. I think we should call out Dennis "the Menace" Herrera on emotional abuse charges on a pregnant woman! Can I make a citizen's arrest?

Posted by Mission mamma on May. 04, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

In fact she has maintained a reamrkably low profile which is at odds with your categorization of her as being a publicity whore. No such evidence.

A blog? Who doesn't have a blog? Are you seriously suggesting that Madison is lying to promote some lousy blog that probably nobody reads anyway?

Madison's story is consistent and credible. She has nothing to gain personally and in fact I feel sure she would rather this had never happened.

The zero tolerance policy that is maintained towards DV does break up families - but for very good reasons - the alternative is much worse - potentially death. Ross and Eliana are better off this way, she and the child are safer, and Ross got what he clearly deserved.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 04, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

The act of breaking up a family should be a last resort not the first one. Sadly policy of zero tolerance moves it to the first resort. In doing so it shows how little DV advocates value families. They fail to understand how damaging breaking a family is and how badly children need both parents. They rely too much on sterile academic research and too little on common sense born out of real experience. The result is treatment of people as statistics and not individuals.

The whole idea of zero tolerance is by nature intolerant and small minded. The right approach is to examine each individual situation and decide accordingly. But that requires thinking and does not fit a 30 second sound bite. I oppose zero tolerance; mandatory punishments and anything that bins people based on statistics. We are individuals and have a right to be treated as such. The people who deride racial profiling push for laws that advocate gender based profiling.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2012 @ 10:59 am

As sheriff he knew the DV rules and policies and decided that they didn't apply to him.

Big mistake.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 06, 2012 @ 8:15 am

Eliana broke up the family. That was the point of her video. She exaggerated the argument and her complaints about her husband as fodder for a custody battle. I doubt she realized how her allegations would be used politically, but clearly she doesn't care enough to come forward and tell what really happened. The real loser is the son, deprived of his father because of his mother's lack of integrity. For her, the end justified the means.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 11:03 am

It was simply a form of insurance against losing custody of her son. Unfortunately, Eliana and Ross fed into each other's fears with all the talk about lawyers. She is obviously distressed that her family has been broken up.

You trolls should own up to one thing at least. You don't know the first thing about this woman or her intentions. And you are slandering her in the most vicious manner imaginable.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

Naivity and ignorance explains at least part of that. But she was out of her depth here, and Ross scared her so much that her desparation led her to over-react.

This is the right outcome and eventually everyone will see that.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

Realizes she has stepped in a very big mess. She may be sued as well as prosecuted for making false evidence; breaking confidentiality; misrepresentation ... No wonder she has clammed up. Madison and Lopez both had their plans but got taken by much bigger forces than they were prepared to handle. I bet they both regret the path they took but it is too late now. Lopez has no rich and powerful husband to milk and Madison got very questionable publicity.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

in civil or criminal court. The idea that she is running scared is ridiculous. She merely relayed what Eliana had told her, and furnished video evidence to back that up. I have seen nothing implicating here in any wrongdoing.

I agree with you that Eliana plotted this and probably encouraged Ross to be violent, to entrap him. It's possible that Madison informed her how strict the DV laws were, and thereby helped put the trap in place. But Ross should not have fallen into the spiders web, and he only has himself to blame.

Madison is unimpeachable here. Eliana got carried away. Madison was the only cool, credible voice here. Ross is an idiot. End of.

Posted by Anonymous on May. 05, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

boy, you really have an enlightened view of women.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

The evidence points to the categorization that I made. Are you aware of evidence to the contrary?

Posted by Anonymous on May. 06, 2012 @ 8:16 am