Ethics Commission undercuts the main witness against Mirkarimi

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Journalists pepper Mayor Ed Lee with questions about the case he's brought against Ross Mirkarimi.
Steven T. Jones

The testimony of the star witness in Mayor Ed Lee's official misconduct case against suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi came in for harsh criticism by the Ethics Commission last night, with that body striking most of it as prejudicial and unsupported hearsay evidence that should have never been introduced, something that even the city's attorneys admitted and apologized for.

It was a serious blow to the city's case that also undercuts the written testimony of the city's domestic violence expert, attorney Nancy Lemon, who based much of her analysis and judgments on this discredited and disallowed testimony of Ivory Madison, the neighbor and confidante of Mirkarimi's wife who reported the Dec. 31 domestic violence incident to police.

Meanwhile, Lee was confronted by a large pack of reporters following his monthly appearance before the Board of Supervisors earlier the day, which peppered him with pointed questions about his decision to bring what is evolving into an expensive, complicated, and nasty prosecution of Mirkarimi rather than simply allowing him to be recalled by voters. The exchange made news when Lee characterized Mirkarimi's arm-grabbing incident as “the beating of his wife.”

Mirkarimi and his attorneys labeled that comment and much of the city's case as simply a smear campaign that goes well beyond the narrow question of whether Mirkarimi committed official misconduct and should be removed from office, which the commission is still in the process of setting up procedures to answer.

Yesterday's hearing dealt mostly with deciding whether to exclude or allow the written testimony of nearly two dozen witnesses. The only testimony that was stricken entirely was that of Paul Henderson, Lee's criminal justice adviser, who testified that Mirkarimi's guilty plea to misdemeanor false imprisonment for the grabbing incident would hurt his ability to function as the sheriff. The commission found the testimony to be irrelevant and prejudicial, clearly upsetting Deputy City Attorney Sherri Kaiser.

But the big news from last week's hearing was the dim view that the commission took of Madison's 22-page declaration, which painted Mirkarimi as domineering and oppressive, a bleak picture that she attributed to his wife, Eliana Lopez, as conveyed during repeated conversations between October and December as the couple was having marital problems. Madison is the main source supporting the city's most serious allegations: that Mirkarimi abused his wife and then tried to thwart a police investigation

Commissioner Paul Renne – a career litigator appointed to the commission by the District Attorney's Office – took the lead role in criticizing Madison's testimony and the city for allowing it, ruing the fact that it was used by the Examiner and other media outlets to paint a defamatory “portrait of verbal abuse and child neglect inside Mirkarimi's fear-ridden household,” as the Examiner put it on the cover of yesterday's paper.

“I saw that and I thought maybe this idea of [taking initial testimony through written] declarations is not protective of the interests of everyone,” Renne said.

“I was disappointed by the content of Ivory Madison's declaration. A first-year lawyer should know that much of it is inadmissible and it should not have been given to us,” Renne told Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith, calling it “clearly hearsay, clearly having the intention of poisoning the well of this hearing.”

Keith didn't even try to defend most of the declaration, responding to Renne by saying, “We have an independent witness that is represented by [her own legal] counsel and we didn't have control over everything that was submitted...I think the criticism is well-taken and we didn't mean to put matters before the commission that are not relevant.”

“But you were the one who submitted the declaration,” Renne responded, telling Keith that the city must avoiding engaging in character assassination that goes beyond the scope of the commission's inquiry, which will result in a formal recommendation going to the Board of Supervisors near the end of summer.

“My recommendation is we reject the declaration and you bring her in for live testimony,” Renne recommended. The rest of the commission seemed to agree with Renne's criticism, but it opted to go through the declaration line-by-line, removing most of it from the proceedings. Madison is also expected to testify live and be subjected to a tough cross-examination by Mirkarimi's attorneys, who say she has blown the incident out-of-proportion and broke the confidence of Lopez, who denies that Mirkarimi was ever abusive.

In arguing unsuccessfully for much of Madison's written testimony to remain in the record, Keith told the commission that it was the basis for Lemon's assessment of patterns of behavior by batterers, thus undercutting that testimony as well.

“If they're untrue, they're meaningless, right?” Renne asked Keith, referring to the sensational tales Madison told about Mirkarimi's controlling behavior.

But Keith said that even if the stories Lopez told Madison were untrue or highly embellished – as Lopez's attorney, Paula Canny, has implied as she characterized her client as building a child custody case in the event the couple divorced – they are still relevant to understanding why Madison reported Mirkarimi to the police.

“Whether or not these actions happened, it's relevant to her concerns,” Keith said.

But Mirkarimi attorney Shepherd Kopp said that, like much of the city's case, hearsay testimony based on flawed and prejudicial information should be irrelevant to these proceedings and shouldn't be allowed as evidence against Mirkarimi.

“Their expert, Ms. Lemon, can believe what she wants, but that doesn't mean it should come in as evidence,” Kopp said.

The hearing was continued to next week when Mirkarimi, Lee, and other key witnesses are expected to begin giving live testimony before the commission on June 28 and 29. Click here to read the various documents associated with the case.

Comments

proceedings which, to an impartial, neutral eye, seems both objective, fair and dispassionate.

But then I'd expect the Ross camp to become ever more desparate and partisan as their idol loses ever more credibility and support.

76% of SF voters want Ross gone, versus only 14% who want him to stay, with 10% not caring a toss.

Toast, and he only has himself to blame.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 11:55 am
Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

Sorry to repeat what was already linking in the story. I found the neighbors declarations very compelling and wanted to draw attention to them.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

are not direct witnesses ..they are hearsay witnesses with compelling personal reasons to write the declarations they did.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

Thank you Christine Craft for coming forward. I only want to see the truth and not read all the comments that attack our Sheriff. These people appear to be bias and tainted by what they want to see. I believe in the truth. Our Sheriff is becoming the victim and it is all smear tactics by the mayor. I overheard Barbara Upton stating she wanted to see our Sheriff gone. She will continue to spread her false allegations to wield power from the Mayor. I hope true justice prevails. Thanks for your reporting factual information.I like your style. I hesitate to write comments because people attack you. They can take a flying leap.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 12:04 am

He also tried to hush it up. That's really all we need to know, and makes him unfit for public office, as 76% of voters now believe.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:47 am

"76%?" "voters?" You cannot justify your statement. You cannot.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 7:21 am

but the "twice" bit ..you got from a hearsay statement made by someone who saw and witnessed nothing.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

comes out of it with an enhanced reputation.

The rest, frankly, is self-serving, grim and depressing.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

the contrary.

Posted by Guest dootise on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

while the neighbor tried to help Eliana escape from a violent situation.

And it worked - Eliana is now safe. She's just bitter because the salary that she was counting on for alimony has been taken away by the wishes of the people.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:46 am

and you know this how exactly? She just finished a movie in Venezuela. Did you think she works for free?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

Whoever you are, Guest, you need to delve a little deeper into the who, what and why's of this case. If you simply rely on sensationalist headlines...then you might just miss the truth. Maybe Eliana went to Venezuela because she's not been allowed to be with her husband all this time. So why bother staying in a City that's completely ignored her wishes in the name of what it deems Politically Correct? It's been quite the Heavy-Hand keeping sway around here. I hope justice will prevail. And putting words into someone mouth re alimony? Nice imagination you've got...She's a professional, who was doing quite nicely before she got involved with Ross, and who could conceivably make it quite well on her own from hereon in if need be. Could we have some reality checks around here???

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 23, 2012 @ 8:42 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 6:37 pm

particularly at 56:00 minutes in...for the bombshell. YOu wouldn't mind other people looking at the archive..would you??

www.sfgovtv.org...archive for last night's Ethics Commission hearing.

Finally..some actual reporting!!

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

Who paid for that poll? Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

questions were and how the sample was taken; basic poll methodology which if not divulged renders the poll beyond suspect. What is to hide? No, it is most accurate to ask "What poll?"

WHAT POLL?

There was no fucking poll except the CBS push poll taken before Mirkarimi had a chance to tell his side of the story.

THERE HAS BEEN NO POLL.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

for the Mayor's actions in firing the SMirk.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:48 am

all the information as to how the question(s) and what question(s) were asked and how the sample was generated secret, so you just have to take my word for it. Jerk.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 7:20 am

suggest they are inaccurate. The people I speak to almost all want Ross gone.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 8:48 am

Sounds like an intellectual cheat. Show evidence that the second poll had an honest population sample and show evidence that it did not have an eggregious push-poll character.

I have already shown evidence that the first poll was conducted immediately after the sheriff's plea deal before his side of the story could be heard. I've already shown evidence that the first poll -- which didn't, by the way, have the numbers cited here -- had a push-poll character.

The fact that this second so-called "poll" has been kept completely secret is *highly* suggestive that it is completely worthless except as propaganda for the Mirkarimi haters.

You show evidence now. You have none.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 9:20 am

And since those polls refute your position, you have no choice but to try and discredit them regardless of their validity and veracity.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 9:59 am

Poof. Nothing. No sample data, no margin of error, no methodology, no list of questions. Were only rabid running dogs of the San Francisco Chronicle polled? Nobody knows because the poll is secret. That second "poll" is a big ZERO.

The first poll is a push poll on its face because they prefaced their question as to whether it was right for the mayor to remove the sheriff with a provably false statement to the effect that Mirkarimi had gotten off lightly with his plea bargain.

These are all facts in evidence yet you continue to referr back to some supposed poll which is meaningless.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

>"The first poll is a push poll on its face because they prefaced their question as to whether it was right for the mayor to remove the sheriff with a provably false statement to the effect that Mirkarimi had gotten off lightly with his plea bargain."

Exactly! Could not be clearer about this proof that the people are actually behind Mirkarimi. I'm convinced. Don't know why the rest of you are having so much trouble getting what lili is teaching us.

I'm sure that if anyone did a clean poll, e.g., 'In December Ross Mirkarimi gently guided his wife from the car. Is it right that Pak/Brown/Lee are now trying to remove him from his elected office based on totally trumped up charges?' that the vote would show Mirkarimi's popularity with the people.

Posted by Troll on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

and exaggeration in order to dispute the rightness of my position; further proof to the opposite. Facetious claims made by Troll and attributed to me are not valid.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

hahahaha!! i'm sure that is true....the people I speak to part, that is.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

The local CBS TV affiliate, which has no dog in the fight and nothing to gain, nonetheless commissions a 'push poll' against Mirkarimi. Shows the complete intellectual bankruptcy of lilli and the others.

And of course, now that Mirkarimi has explained that he was only 'guiding' his wife's arm the sympathy is pouring in and the poll results would be completely different.

Okay, awaiting the explosion now so that I can have another good laugh.

Posted by Troll on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 7:39 am
Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 8:50 am

FYI: I was referring to the following poll as reported by Matier and Ross.

The May 16-21 poll, conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, found that 76 percent ... Just 14 percent disagreed with Lee's call to toss Ross

The poll was conducted for an unnamed client as part of a broader survey.

Unnamed client? So my question still is: Who paid for the poll? Thanks.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/26/BA7Q1ON31P.D...

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 11:00 am

Either you believe that FMMMA know how to conduct a valid poll or you don't. I know of no reason to believe that they would dishinestly report opinions expressed to them.

And easily 3 out of every 4 people I know would say the same thing. If anything I'd say this poll may understate the percentage of voters who think Lee did the right thing.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 11:16 am

I know -- and knew -- exactly of the tripe poll to which you were referring and I agree with your question, but yet I think it is more direct to ask what the methodology of choosing participants in the poll were, what the margin of error, and *WHAT* *OTHER* *QUESTIONS* (i.e. push-poll material) were included in the study. The question of who paid for it less material.

I have never seen a poll cited so much which is *COMPLETELY* secret. All we know is who did the poll -- an outfit, by the way which stresses "results" on its web page -- and who is willing to tout it without any kind of justification; i.e. the pro-machine whores at the Chronicle. (Sorry working ladies, just a figure of speech and not an indictment for your honest work.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 11:17 am

Poll? I have no credible poll showing that ... and neither do you. I don't need a poll though. You *are* a liar.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

I am responding to comments that talk about tainted window. Ross is not going anyhere. He is the Sheriff. You can move on yourself. I know you are with the Mayor's team of hoodlums. Can't you see the Mayor is one of the bad guys.
We see the facts are coming out and that's the way we want it to be, factual and not hearsay.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

voted for him not knowing about the spousal abuse.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:49 am

except in your mind.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:36 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

bold-faced lie. I'd ask you to show a citation to back your ridiculous mendacity, but I know you'll just come back with another stack of bs.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

I don't know much about that poll that is often cited. But the figure of 76% of the people wanting Ross to leave sounds quite reasonable.

Start with the November election, where 61.5% of the voters wanted someone else to be Sheriff (UCSF has said that Mirkarimi probably would not have won a traditional run-off).

Of that 61.5% who didn't want him in the first place it is very conservative to assume that at least 95%, or 58% still don't want him. Probably safe to say that 25% of his voters want him gone now (it is not unreasonable to assume a LOT of his female voters regret their choice, as does Aaron Peskin and others with Progressive pride). Now you are up to 68%. Throw in some people who didn't vote in November who would love to vote against him now that they know who he is and the 76% sounds pretty good.

There was also the CBS Poll (I love mentioning it because lilli starts ranting that the local CBS TV affiliate is a biased part of the Mirkarimi lynching) that had a figure in the mid 60%s.

Posted by Troll on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

RossGate has killed his credibility and ability to do his job. Time to move on.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

suspending an elected official and it's highly unlikely that, having taken legal and political advice, he would have done that unless his private polls showed overwhelming public support for that action, which they did, followed by two public polls showing an over-riding majority of voters wanting the wife-beater gone from office.

To take risks, you need the people on your side.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

out that your assertion is crap. And, by-the-way, I don't feel an absolute need to prove it... again... because it is so fucking obvious... again... but I will remark that your reference to "two public polls" is irredeemably fucked because you are referring in part to a secret poll which may have only included right-handed psychopathic armadillos in its sample -- that which you pompously refer to as "voters."

Somebody in this world just has to be a jackass I suppose.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

impartiality, neutrality, and objectivity?
I don't remember being surveyed. Did you want to list a reference for the survey you mention?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

Ivory Madison can't stand the smell of her own shit.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

Whereas, I absolutely love the smell of anyone's shit as long as they have a penis that isn't attached to my partner

Posted by Marcos on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

What the hell does that even mean, marcos?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

He employs it every time he loses a debate.

Which is every time he opens his mouth.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

What part of "pleading guilty" do you not understand?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

"official misconduct" and "administrative hearing" do you not understand?

Posted by Guest dootise on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

In case you haven't noticed, someone else has been doing the sheriff's job for the last few months and, by all accounts, doing a great job.

We don't need a wife-beating egomaniac and ideolog in that office.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:51 am

"We don't need a wife-beating egomaniac and ideolog in that office."

You see? Right there, that is the problem. Ross grabbed his wife's arm during a heated argument. That does not constitute "wife-beating".
"Egomaniac?" "Ideologue"?

Your simplistic vitriole is not appreciated. Justice will prevail. From cool heads, who know the difference between an arm-grab, and "beating".
Go back to school. That's where one learns how to think and analyze. You may not have been paying attention. I wish you well.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:47 pm