Judge Refuses Change to Mirkarimi Stay Away Order, Prosecutor Reveals Lopez Messages

Written by Kat Anderson. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on January 27, 2012 with 2 Comments

Accompanied by his new attorney, Lidia Stiglich, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi provided a brief statement to a throng of reporters Thursday following a court hearing in which Judge Susan Breall refused to modify a stay away order. Mirkarimi is facing three misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, on New Year's Eve. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Kat Anderson

January 26, 2012

Embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi lost his bid Thursday to be repatriated with his family.

Returning to Judge Susan Breall’s courtroom with his new lawyer, defense attorney Lidia Stiglich, Mirkarimi hoped at least to be able to have supervised visits with his two year-old son, Theo. He also requested the order changed to a “no harassment” order so that he could communicate with his wife, Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutor Liz Aguilar-Tarchi opposed any modification.

Judge Breall refused to modify the order, stating that she found no change in circumstances in the week since the order was first imposed; that she saw no reason to depart from the usual domestic violence court procedures of separating alleged abusers from their alleged victims.

“I know he would not want any special treatment just because he is sheriff,” Judge Breall said.

While Judge Breall was glad to hear that Mirkarimi has begun private counseling sessions, she did not regard three sessions as a “substantial batterer’s treatment program,” warranting lifting the stay away order.

Instead, Judge Breall urged Mirkarimi’s attorney to petition the Family Court to modify the stay away order, because it “is uniquely situated to consider such a request.”

Aguilar-Tarchi, in opposing Mirkarimi’s motion, read a text message that Lopez sent on January 2nd to her neighbor, Ivory Madison, in which Lopez expressed concerns about herself, her child, and the bruise on her arm.

“I am agreed with everything. I’m realizing how serious it is. I need to protect myself and Theo. I want to just run away,” Lopez is said to have written to Madison in the text message.

Aguilar-Tarchi also offered an October 19, 2011 email as evidence of child neglect. In the email, Lopez discussed with Madison her trip to Los Angeles.

“My classes in LA are great, but I am very worried about Theo,” Lopez wrote. “It was a nightmare. When I returned, I found Theo all wet – shoes, socks, pants, diaper.”  Theo was in Mirkarimi’s care at the time.

Stiglich asked the court to consider the circumstances as of “today,” rather than months ago. She argued that Child Protective Services sent an investigator to visit Theo on January 21, and to interview his day care provider on January 23. The CPS investigator concluded that allegations of emotional abuse were unfounded. The child care provider said the only negative effects she had observed were related to Theo being separated from his father. Additionally, Stiglich offered, neither Lopez nor any witness has said there was any concern for Lopez’ safety around Mirkarimi.

Mirkarimi defense attorney Lidia Stiglich.

Aguilar-Tarchi reiterated her concern that Lopez is retreating as domestic violence victims typically do. She pointed to the charge against Mirkarimi of dissuading a witness.

“He told Ms. L not to tell anyone. Don’t talk to anyone.  Come into the house,” Aguilar-Tarchi said.

Aguilar-Tarchi called the family trip to Monterey that Mirkarimi initiated as “a way to get [Lopez] away and to isolate her,” keeping her from telling anyone about the New Year’s Eve argument that resulted in Lopez’ bruised arm.

Assistant District Attorney Liz Aguilar-Tarchi.

Lopez silently left the courtroom in tears passing by a woman holding a sign with a photo of Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.  In 2005, Hayes-White escaped criminal prosecution for an alleged domestic incident involving her husband when her husband recanted his accusations.

“There’s a double standard here,” Paulette Brown said. “This lady conked her husband.”

Paulette Brown.

A tearful and distraught Eliana Lopez left the courtroom facing the prospect of not being repatriated with her husband until resolution of her husband's criminal trial. The trial is set to begin February 24.

Mirkarimi and Lopez deny any wrongdoing and believe there is a political element to the prosecution.

Following the hearing, a restrained Mirkarimi provided a brief statement to a scrum of reporters.

“This has been enormously crushing – the fact that I haven’t been able to see my family, to be with my wife or be with my son,” Mirkarimi said. “This is disproportionately cruel and I will continue to commit to fight this.”

Mirkarimi was trailed by a man holding a sign and shouting, “Resign, Ross, Resign.”

Blogger Michael Petrelis held a sign calling on Mirkarimi to resign saying the Sheriff cannot perform his official duties while fighting criminal charges.

Stiglich explained in a conversation with FCJ that Thursday’s result was “not unexpected; nonetheless, [her] client is devastated.”

When asked to comment on the value of rallies in  support of her client, Stiglich said, “The thing with rallies is we have to try this thing in court.”

Stiglich said she is “very confident” that Mirkarimi will be found not guilty of the charges.

(Readers note: Judge Breall changed the pre-trial conference from February 16 to February 22 at 2:00 pm in Department 24).

Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law and Stanford University. She has made San Francisco her home since 1988.

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Comments for Judge Refuses Change to Mirkarimi Stay Away Order, Prosecutor Reveals Lopez Messages are now closed.

  1. Perhaps Ms Brown should discuss the Hayes-White matter with Ms Kamala Harris. My guess is that it is hard to prosecute “he said, she said” cases, especially when one side recants. In this case, there are witnesses to an argument, emails documenting concerns for safety, and a video. Perhaps Mr Mirikirimi won’t be convicted, but there appears to be more evidence against Mr Mirikirimi than there was against Ms Hayes-White.

  2. you know, your height is a great advantage in picture taking, Luke….