...Monday, [San Francisco Sheriff Ross] Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. The more serious domestic violence charges of battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness were dropped... Public Defender Jeff Adachi summed up the deal as: "The district attorney gave in by not insisting that the sheriff plea to a domestic violence charge. At the same time, the district attorney got the sheriff to agree to one year of domestic violence counseling"... If convicted of domestic violence battery, the sheriff would not be able to carry a gun at all... "It's difficult for me to understand how he's going to be able to do his job as sheriff. He's incarcerating people who are in jail for the same crime that he pled guilty to"...
It is up to Mayor Lee whether to bring misconduct charges against the sheriff, which would then proceed to the Board of Supervisors - the board Mirkarimi was a member of for years before becoming sheriff - for a vote on whether to bump him out of his job. But San Francisco is refreshingly a city of lifted voices, and come July there is also the option of recall. In the end, the people of San Francisco will make the decision if the politically confused system of it's city's leadership does not. "If this, then that" seems to be what the leaders and board are wrestling with in advance, like a game of chess. In the simplest terms the question appears to me to be whether a man who avoided facing the real charges, and pleading down to a yet serious (domestic) charge, should be head of the city's law enforcement. In that I see no "maybe."
THE DANGLING DISCOMFORT: IGNORING ELIANA
To Eliana, I am sorry for the way this has disempowered you. Sometimes in the battle between accountability and what the victim wants, one is accomplished at the cost of the other. I hope that you understand that what is happening is not aimed at any of you. It's not intended to save you when you are saying that you do not need to be saved. It's about who should fill the position, effectively. It's about the city and the profession.
Prayers are lifted for you individually, and for your family.
ROSS MIRKARIMI SHOULD TELL S.F. WHAT HAPPENED
San Francisco Chronicle
Debra J. Saunders
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
[Excerpts] Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi agreed to a plea bargain on a misdemeanor domestic violence and two related charges... The district attorney dropped the three original charges; Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment... Mirkarimi should tell San Francisco voters what happened. Public Defender Jeff Adachi summed up the deal as: "The district attorney gave in by not insisting that the sheriff plea to a domestic violence charge. At the same time, the district attorney got the sheriff to agree to one year of domestic violence counseling." (Hence the sheriff should be able to carry a gun.) Is it a good deal for the city? I don't think voters will know until Mirkarimi levels with the public. Defense attorney Lidia Stiglich tells me he will do so after Monday's sentencing... Optimists might call the outcome a win-win situation. Mirkarimi agrees to counseling without being weighed down with the professional baggage of a domestic violence conviction. I'm not so sure. Pre-trial testimony got pretty ugly. An ex-girlfriend accused the sheriff of grabbing and bruising her arm four years ago - which allowed experts to label Mirkarimi as a repeat offender... Now that Mirkarimi has pleaded guilty, after saying he wasn't, there's still no context to the story. It's time the sheriff shared what happened with the people of San Francisco...
MIRKARIMI’S PLEA HURTS CREDIBILITY OF HIS OFFICE
By: Sandy Lopez & Jamie Goldberg
March 13, 2012 – 11:40 am
[Excerpts] Mission residents have little sympathy for San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, whose domestic violence case ended Monday with an agreement in which the sheriff pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment. In exchange, San Francisco prosecutors dropped a domestic violence charge and two other misdemeanor counts that were filed in January. The charges stemmed from a New Year’s Eve dispute between Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez. Lopez declined to cooperate with prosecutors... “This case represents everything that is wrong with the criminal justice system,” said Page Thady, a 30-year-old Mission District resident. “We are creating a culture of victim-blaming.” Although Lopez declined to press charges, Ivory Madison, a neighbor, videotaped Lopez after the alleged abuse occurred... “This reinforces that it’s OK for men in power to abuse women,” said Tara Dorabji as she sat in Mission Creek Café. “His wife’s silence speaks really loudly to so many women who live in fear... It seems like there is a lot of threatening on his behalf because he has such power. A better investigation needs to be held.” The guilty plea does not disqualify Mirkarimi from retaining his job... “I think that’s pretty hypocritical for him to act like some kind of role model,” said Vanessa Bachik... “If he stays on as sheriff, how is anybody going to trust him?”... Mission residents said they could no longer trust the sherriff. Mirkarimi has lost his credibility, said Noe Bonilla... “I’m not a judge and I don’t completely understand how this system works, but I don’t trust him anymore... I think he needs to be held accountable. If he refuses to step down, then the mayor should take action”...
MIRKARIMI PLEA BARGAIN OK WITH VICTIMS' ADVOCATES
San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
[Excerpts] Advocates for domestic violence victims, who worked hard to shape public opinion surrounding the Ross Mirkarimi saga and keep it in the spotlight, were satisfied with the outcome of his criminal case... "The justice system did its job," said Kathy Black, executive director of La Casa de las Madres, which aids abuse victims... "In the best-case scenario, I think (Mirkarimi) should step down," Black said. "It's difficult for me to understand how he's going to be able to do his job as sheriff. He's incarcerating people who are in jail for the same crime that he pled guilty to"... Michael Hennessey, who retired in January as San Francisco sheriff after 32 years in office and endorsed Mirkarimi to succeed him, doesn't think a forced ouster is warranted. "My opinion is that he should remain in the job and be given a chance to show what he can do with the office. I think he's being punished accordingly by the justice system... During my time as sheriff, I hired many people with criminal records who have done outstanding jobs for the department," Hennessey said... But not everyone thinks that should be the deciding factor. "The main function of the Sheriff's Department is to oversee the jails, and here's someone who pled to false imprisonment," said Minouche Kandel, an attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid who specializes in domestic violence issues... Even if Mirkarimi didn't admit he committed domestic violence, the false imprisonment charge is related, she said. "It was an improper use of power and control. I think it's a black eye on the city if he remains in office"...
OUSTING SHERIFF MIRKARIMI WOULD BE HARD FOR MAYOR LEE
By: Dan Schreiber
SF Examiner Staff Writer
03/13/12 7:15 PM
[Excerpts] ...Under the City Charter’s “official misconduct” clause, the mayor may seek the ouster of officials who display “conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers.” But the question of removal will likely hinge on whether Mirkarimi’s crime was related to his job... Under the charter, a mayor may suspend an official but for the removal to be binding it must be upheld by nine of 11 members of the Board of Supervisors - THE PANEL MIRKARIMI SERVED ON FOR EIGHT YEARS BEFORE BEING ELECTED SHERIFF. A case from 1976 set the basic precedent for Mirkarimi’s situation, according to City Attorney’s Office spokesman Jack Song. In that year, Mayor George Moscone suspended labor leader Joe Mazzola from The City’s Airport Commission, and his removal was later upheld by 10 of 11 supervisors. But Mazzola won reinstatement from the Court of Appeals, which ruled that his suspension had nothing to do with his official duties... Lee told The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that his “gut feeling” was that the new charge pointed to a clear job conflict for Mirkarimi, whereas the previous three charges didn’t necessarily constitute “official misconduct.” But the mayor backed off those comments Tuesday, and said he was reacting to the case’s “new twist.” Now, Lee says he’s seeking more detail from prosecutors about the nature of the false imprisonment, which he said could pose a conflict, considering the sheriff’s primary role is overseeing inmates in local jails...
MIRKARIMI PLEADS GUILTY TO FALSE IMPRISONMENT
by Carolyn Tyler and Vic Lee
Monday, March 12, 201
[Excerpts] In a surprise move, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi announced a plea deal that erases a domestic violence charge and allows him to return to his duties as sheriff. Monday's development came on the day jurors would have been selected to hear the case. Instead, the sheriff pleaded guilty to false imprisonment... Monday, Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. The more serious domestic violence charges of battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness were dropped. He will get three years probation, 100 hours of community service, and 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and parenting classes... Since Mirkarimi was convicted of the lesser charge, he will not have to turn over his gun. But the previous court order banning him from staying with his wife but allowing supervised visits with his young son remains in place. Mirkarimi says he will try to get the order lifted after he is sentenced. Still at question is what the plea deal means for Mirkarimi's future. Monday afternoon, Mayor Ed Lee indicated he is troubled by the surprising guilty plea to a charge of false imprisonment. The city was expecting a trial on the domestic abuse charges, now the mayor says he is reviewing his options but isn't likely to make a decision on whether to try to force the sheriff from office until after Mirkarimi's sentencing next week. Lee has the option of suspending Mirkarimi as the first step toward trying to kick him out of office. The city charter allows removal for official misconduct, described as any wrongful behavior by a public officer in relation to the duties of his or her office or conduct that falls below the standard of decency. Mirkarimi says he plans to move forward... The head of the Deputy Sheriff's Association sent ABC7 statement late Monday afternoon, saying the rank and file stands behind their chief law enforcement officer and will continue to follow Mirkarimi's lead.
WHY MIRKARIMI PLED GUILTY
San Franciso Bay Guardian
[Excerpts] Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi didn’t want to cop a plea... It may seem an odd plea for a sheriff, but it was a way to get rid of the more serious charges. A domestic violence conviction would seriously interfere with Mirkarimi’s job - among other things, nobody with a DV rap can possess a gun - not that the sheriff of San Francisco needs to carry a gun, but in the law-enforcement world, domestic violence is (properly) taken very seriously... Can the progressive community accept and once again support a sheriff who has all of this baggage? Is there anything Mirkarimi can do to convince his allies and the voters that either (a) the charges were overblown or (b) he’s learned from this, is going into counseling, is a changed person, and can seek political redemption?...
...Mirkarimi denied to reporters that he had ever physically or verbally abused his wife, calling the New Year’s Eve incident “a private manner, a family matter"...
..."It most certainly is not [a private matter]," wrote San Francisco Examiner columnist Melissa Griffin. "And shame on Mirkarimi for saying so... Public safety officials, whose salaries are paid with our taxes, have even less of a right to claim privacy when their neighbors call the cops"...
...The billboard is also a way to confront the "deafening silence" from City Hall in response to that archaic way of thinking, said Kathy Black, director of La Casa de las Madres... "When those comments were made, I feel like the city and city officials should have stepped right up and said, 'No, that's not correct. It's a crime'..."
OPINION: SF NEEDS POLICE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE POLICY
San Franciso Bay Guardian
03.14.2012 - 2:00 pm
[Excerpts] Everything I've written on the Mirkarimi case has attracted sizable volumes of comments... Some advocates for victims of domestic violence are satisfied with the outcome of the case, and some are not. Former Sheriff Mike Hennessey told the Chron that Mirkarimi should stay in office... If Mirkarimi remains in office, he won't be the only public official in the law-enforcement business who was charged with domestic violence and pled to a lesser offense but kept his job.... The chair of San Francisco NOW [Mona Lisa Wallace] thinks none of that is OK -- she thinks the city needs to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for law-enforcement officers who are convicted of a broadly defined set of domestic violence offenses (and Sheriff Mirkarimi, she argues, would fall under those guidelines). I'm posting the opinion piece she sent me below to keep the discussion going... "When the new sheriff in town, Ross Mirkarimi, pled guilty Monday to misdemeanor false imprisonment (in exchange for prosecutors dropping three other charges), it begged a bigger question: Should Mirkarimi keep his office?... San Francisco NOW believes we need to hold ourselves to the highest standards in preventing domestic violence, which affects one in four women in their lifetimes... Actions have consequences... Mirkarimi committed what the model policy defines as domestic violence, so he should lose his job and his pension. That’s what zero tolerance means. It should not matter that he has friends in high places. It should not matter that he needs the sheriff’s salary and pension. People who uphold the law against domestic violence need to be beyond reproach. Mirkarimi is not. SFNOW is disturbed by the national resurgence of a “war on women” apparent in the current presidential primary elections and congressional hearings working to roll back women’s rights through legislation. We have joined “Unite Against the War on Women,” a movement now 20,000 strong who will march on every state capitol on April 28th to say enough is enough. Join us at: uniteCalifornia@gmail.com We sincerely hope that San Francisco rises to take a strong position opposing the war on women. The city’s sheriff’s and police departments should immediately adopt the model policy on domestic violence by police officers, and quickly apply the zero tolerance standards to our top law enforcement officers.
GOOD ROSS, BAD ROSS: How did Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi—feminist pinup, legislative superstar, hero of San Francisco’s political left—fall so far so fast? Lauren Smiley unravels the story behind the story.
March 13, 2012
[Excerpts] Ross Mirkarimi stood outside the courtroom in the Hall of Justice on the morning of March 12, surrounded by reporters, as he had been almost constantly over the previous two months... “This plea allows us to move forward... I intend to return to the business of running one of the finest sheriff’s departments in this nation, of mending my family and raising my son, Theo, in a safe and happy home.” Never mind that the deal meant pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment, an ironic charge for a sheriff to live down. Mirkarimi would be able to keep his gun and the job he was elected to in November, assuming Mayor Ed Lee and Mirkarimi’s former colleagues on the board didn’t try to push him out... The truth was, Mirkarimi had been bullying people behind the scenes for years before he quarreled with his wife this past New Year’s Eve. The difference this time was that he left a bruise... From the outside, the relationship seemed happy. López called Mirkarimi her “copilot” on her Spanish-language mommy blog, Maminatural, and posted photos of him assisting in Theo’s home birth. “I worship the ground that [Theo] and his mother walk on,” Mirkarimi writes... López is diminutive in stature, but she has a big personality. “I am not the little poor ignorant immigrant,” she lectured the judge who approved the restraining order against her husband... Mirkarimi had booked a family trip to Monterey for a couple of nights before his swearing in. But before they could enjoy their long-overdue vacation, everything fell apart. While the family was driving to lunch on New Year’s Eve, López told him that she was thinking of visiting Venezuela after the inauguration, apparently with Theo in tow... If we are to believe the story relayed by Ivory Madison from López to the police, Mirkarimi lost it, spewing expletives and accusing his wife of trying to take Theo away from him, then turned the car around. Back at the house on Webster Street, the fight allegedly turned physical. Mirkarimi was “pushing, pulling, and grabbing,” according to Madison’s statements to police. López ran out of the house, threatening to call the cops. Faced with such an embarrassing spectacle, the yelling wife and crying kid, Mirkarimi caved, pleading for López to come back inside. But the next day, while Mirkarimi was in the shower, she walked over to Madison’s house and agreed to make a tape in case there should someday be a custody battle... Though no one in city hall had seen Mirkarimi get violent before, no one seemed surprised by his outburst. So why didn’t word of his temper become public sooner? “He’s the guy who wanted to change the world,” says one former supporter, adding that Mirkarimi may have been a jerk, but “he’s our jerk.” There’s also the political code of silence: Aides don’t want to be known as someone who will betray their boss. Along with the schadenfreude and genuine sadness for Mirkarimi’s family (and whispers about whether his bitter history with law enforcement had come back to haunt him), some feel vindication—even relief. “It’s going to force him into therapy,” says an ex-supporter, “something he refused to do”... Beyond the court’s sanctions are the ones Mirkarimi will surely impose on himself. In his email, he finally started to admit his flaws. “At times I know that my insistence rubbed people the wrong way. I get it now,” he wrote... "I will spend the rest of my life trying to become a better man, husband and father"...