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

Not even the hand picked representatives of Lee, Gascon and Herrera put up with the poison spewed out of Madison. Give up Lee; Madison be ready for a major defamation along with several papers.

Posted by Avkanediv on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

It's so obvious that this newspaper wants ross to get away scott-free. I'm just thankful that the mayor has extra body guards. ross for sure, IS the type to pull a Dan White special.

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

you trolls don't care what you say, do you?

Posted by New Comment Policy on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

>"you trolls don't care what you say, do you?"

Do we hold you accountable for everything that lili-whatshisname says?

Posted by Troll on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

actions, and since he continues to foight his lost cause, it's not unreasonable to speculate on what else he might do as he becomes ever more desperate.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:52 am

Dan White was a conservative if I recall correctly. It is usually Conservative nutjobs that pull a "Dan White."

Posted by Troll666 on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

This paper is so pro ross, it's sickening since it equals pro-abuser.

I'm just thankful the Mayor has beefed up his security since ross IS they type who would pull a Dan White Special!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

Your insulting comment has been duly noted. You won't convince anyone of anything with your projections that are not based in reality. Thanks.

Posted by jccourt on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

We get it.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

various sock puppets straight. Have to admire the effort she takes, even if it is transparent.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 23, 2012 @ 8:58 am

yeah, guy, the only troubling thing—well one of many, in this case—is rantings like yours. Take 'em somewhere else, please. It's a beautiful day outside. If your imagination leads you to thoughts of DW, it's a reflection of your mind—but certainly not reality. Go take a walk, breathe in some fresh air, and then carefully, very carefully, go over all the details of this case. You might learn something.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 3:03 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

No doubt she'll make more as Mirkin's demise approaches. There's something strangely obsessive about her interest in this issue - something bordering on a creepy, stalkeresque, vaguely-sexual obsession with Mirk.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

reference to being in Sacramento blah blah. And then it was obvious, as all these new "female" posters arrived at about the same time all singing the same transparent apologist song.

Craft comes across as a whack job just from the content of her posts alone. But this blatant sock puppetry takes her psychosis to a while new level of whacked creepiness.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 4:04 pm
Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 11:07 am

Try and keep your lying stories straight.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

What do you have against black people anyway?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

That's what trolls dream about.
Dream on, trolls...for the record, I'm nobody's puppet. I use my (woah!) real name.
That's about all I have to say on this topic. Troll on.

Posted by Daniele E. on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

So, Craft = Daniele = Dootsie = Coppersmom = JCCourt

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 2:12 pm
Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

They should have just done the proceeding with live witnesses and written briefs. This procedure of "direct testimony by declarations, cross-exam by live testimony" doesn't seem to be working very well, is giving witnesses an opportunity to tee off on him in writing, and is prolonging the process.

That Madison declaration is really prejudicial. So is the Mertens declaration. Makes Mirkarimi sound like a monster. The Mertens declaration says their kid didn't even have a bed to sleep in; he slept in a chair?

Posted by The Commish on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

refuses to feed his wife and child because he's pissed at them? What kind of wife considers it a newsworthy event when her husband "fed us well." That little detail stands out to me for all the wrong reasons.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

Wasn't Mirkarimi a staunch die -hard supporter of transparency and accountability which was/is the gist of the Sunshine Ordinance?

Why is he fighting tooth and nail to keep testimony and evidence stricken from the hearings? Only one thing why, he has a lot to hide.

Unlike many who claim they didn't vote for Ross, but believe the Mayor is wrong, I actually voted for Ross and am convinced he should never be a Sheriff.

Shame on all of you who want a Sheriff that abused his wife.

Posted by GuestOfNoOne on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

A lot of the testimony in the declarations is really beside the point, and just inflammatory stuff.

Posted by The Commish on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

From day one.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

abuse of former girlfriends, his infidelity, his panty collection, his "I'm a powerful man" tirade, his ill-treatment of employees, and so on. It should all come out.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:54 am

they have different relationships, they aren't required to take marital vows of fidelity. Did you think they were?

Posted by Guest dootise on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

Many politicians have lost their careers because of an affair, indiscretion or vice. When you're an elected official, everything they do is rightfully under scrutiny.

So yes, it matters that he was unfaithful, lied about it, and behaved badly towards women befire Eliana. It shows such behavior is a pattern and not just the isolated incident which Ross is claiming.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 6:16 am

that M lived with and had a real relationship with Evelyn NIeves, the NYT and former AP bureau chief here. She says no abuse ever, in fact the contrary. Her credibility is untainted. Ms. Flores, on the other hand was just a girlfriend, not a live-in,not all that serious. She went Bonkers when M met Eliana and fell in love and tried to gently tell her twas over. Ms. Flores sent him nudie pix of herself in response and in some misguided poetics, threatened to ruin him politically. She is the scorned, sometimes girlfriend with whom he was never serious and she's Eliana's best friend...right?

Posted by Guest dootise on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

Convenient for your guy, huh?

Trouble is, people who've worked with Ross are making very similar allegations. The idea that Ross is all sweetness and light is, I'm afraid, naive.

He's unfit for public office.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:16 pm
Posted by Guest christine on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

he was abusive and dismissive towards them, just as the "allegations" about how he treated his wife.

Eventually, it sticks.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

Consider just for a moment that every word is true. I know it's hard, but try for just a minute.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

refer to the deliberation on public matters held by elected officials, spending public money.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

You realize there's a difference between accountability and transparency, and just making stuff up, don't you? We're talking about overturning the results of an election here, so it really should be something better than "I heard...."

Posted by pdquick on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?. A simple yes or no will suffice.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

It's less than 3 weeks until the Recall Ross campaign swings into gear. This is all meaningless - lawyers can't defend Ross from the wrath of a recall.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

Hopefully it won't be necessary when all the evidence has been heard and the Supes vote him gone.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:55 am
Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 7:37 am
Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 8:47 am

his lawyers would have no basis to "defend" him from a recall, nor would they try. However, if you think the city will not end up spending a lot of money in this matter you'd be wrong..It's already about a million. That's before further litigation.

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

This is being led by the voters of San Francisco. Of which, I might add, YOU are not one Christine Craft.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

And a dried up has-been.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

Since I only work in San Francisco and no longer live here, I shouldn't be allowed to comment. By that logic, no cop or other talk show host, or other lawyer who happens to not live within the boundaries of San Francisco..but who works here...should be allowed to comment either. Hogwash! I've read every single filing in this matter from the criminal proceedings, the plea bargain to 'turning around your car on the way to the restaurant "charge, custody hearings and now everything at the Ethics Commission. I wonder how many posting here have read every document and done some major digging into the issues? I'm not a progressive(whatever the hell that is). I'd never met Ross Mirkarimi until I interviewed him at length on KGO radio. The first interview was down in the beautiful Front Street bayside facility known as the ABC Broadcast Center. We were both physically present. I'm absolutely at a minimum, entitled as anyone else to express my view, that this attempted political lynching of Ross Mirkarimi has run into big trouble. They never expected him to fight back,. Have you see the text messages?..There is utterly no evidence of dissuading any witnesses. I say that as a lawyer, a talk-show host and as a person who no longer lives in San Francisco. Because of that, I won't be signing up for any recall campaign, aren't you glad? Signing off for now, gotta finish my swim so I won't be a "dried up" out-of towner.

Posted by Guest dootise on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

How many other names are you posting under to create the delusion that more people support Ross when it's not true.

Heh.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

not dootsie...a moniker I frequently use when posting here and elsewhere..so if you see "dootise". it's probably me, dootise. I didn't err,I have used dootise for years here and elsewhere. I decided to use my own name when this story came about. Sometimes when hitting reply, the screen comes up with either dootise or Christine...either or both...are me. I used another moniker on the Sfgate site for many years, often with edgy comments. Only when those edgy comments referred to the dubious legal credentials of Ivory Madison was my ability to comment ended by the Chronicle...funny that.
funny that your name is "guest"...did your mama give that to you. Why don't you use your own name...at least once in a while?

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 23, 2012 @ 7:55 am

And I see you've taken time to began spouting the same bullshit on SFGate that you're spouting here.

You really need to examine why this issue has become so personal to you. There's something about it that has obsessed you to the point that you're sockpuppeting any website you can find with the same crap as you regularly post here. What happened to you in the past Christine that this has become an obsession for you? Dig deep.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 23, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

She's one whacked broad.

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

JCcourt..my name on sfgate for many years has been......coppersmom

Posted by GuestChristine Craft on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 7:41 am