Judge Grants Mirkarimi Visitation With Son

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

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Published on February 09, 2012 with 10 Comments

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was today granted the right to unsupervised visits with his two year-old son. Photos by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

February 8, 2012

A family law judge today modified a court order to grant embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi the immediate right to visit with his two-year-old son.

“I get to see my son,” a relieved and jubilant Mirkarimi told reporters following the court hearing. “I can’t tell you how excited and grateful I am. This has been a torturous process.”

Mirkarimi said the first thing he will say to his son when he sees him will be, “I love you.”

The modified court order, signed by Superior Court Judge Ronald Albers, provides Mirkarimi and son, Theo, with up to two-hours per day and up to six-hours on weekend days to spend unsupervised visits together. Exact times, locations and transportation for the visits are to be arranged by Patricia Forsyth and her son, Jeremy Forsyth, the order stipulates. The Forsyths are friends of Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez.

“I just want to say I am extremely happy that Theo is going to see his daddy,” an equally joyful but tearful Lopez told reporters following the hearing.

A tearful Eliana Lopez.

Mirkarimi was ordered separated from his family January 13 following his arrest and the filing of three criminal misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident involving Mirkarimi and Lopez on New Year’s Eve. The couple deny any wrongdoing and believe there is a political element to the prosecution.

The stay away order remains in effect for Mirkarimi and Lopez until there is a resolution in Mirkarimi’s criminal trial, set to begin February 24. He is charged with domestic violence, dissuading a witness and child endangerment.

In a surprise turn of events, the chief prosecutor in Mirkarimi’s criminal trial – Assistant District Attorney Liz Aguilar-Tarchi – attended the family court hearing and attempted to speak to the court. Judge Albers refused her request.

“Never before in my career have I seen a deputy district attorney attempt to intervene in a family law court proceeding,” said Lopez’ criminal defense attorney Paula Canny, referring to Aguilar-Tarchi’s attendance. “Even as an observer, it would have been unusual. To attempt to intercede is just shocking.”

A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office said Aguilar-Tarchi attended the hearing to ensure the couple remain separated.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • http://david-elliott-lewis.smugmug.com David Elliott Lewis

    An over reaching court is reined in. Thankfully and finally, something goes his way.

  • DavidinSF

    Sanity prevails!

  • tami

    My overwhelming joy and relief that at least father and son can see each other is offset by outrage and grief at the fact that Aguilar Tarchi is determined to prolong the separation of the couple. Even IF the report of the New Years Eve incident is true, which it isn’t, I beleive it would be impossible to find another case anywhere in the US where such an extreme restraining order is granted on such a minor alleged event. There is no doubt that this is a politcal persecution.

  • Daniele E.

    Tami, I’m glad too about Mirk being able to spend time with his son. But from what I understand, the court here is upholding the law/protocol as in any other case in regards to keeping the couple separate for the time being. How do you know what is and isn’t true in regards to what happened? Did you see what the prosecution has seen?
    Sorry, but for the time being, I’m going to trust the system. Where violence has transpired, I think it’s good and proper to err on the side of caution. I also think given what went down, it’s not hard to understand that the courts see this as a potentially volatile time in the couple’s life. Seriously, they’ll get over it! If they are meant to be together, all will be well.
    And—i don’t know the level of violence. I trust it doesn’t rise to the level of criminality. But I’m tired of seeing folks run to conclusions based on loyalty to a political figure, assuming political persecution, and trashing a system that’s there to protect.
    Patience, you know? Patience…

  • tami

    Daniele-
    You do not know me therefore I find your assessment of me profoundly flawed, but not worth my energy to address.
    The violence in this situation is the tax payer funded child abuse perpetrated by the DAs and Judge Breall. I find unnecessarily traumatizing an innocent child at such a crucial stage in his development to be morally reprehensible and indefensible.
    I want to trust the system to do the right thing. But it isn’t. The stay away order is totally out of line! And the extent to which it calls for absolutely no parental contact in spite of the obligation they share is actually tragic.
    The Examiner published my letter that spoke to the fact that the “special treatment” Ross got was to be treated “especially worse” than an ordinary citizen would be.
    If you cannot smell the opportunism and corruption propelling the handling of the case, then that is you. But I stand by my conviction and you can stand by yours. We shall see how this turns out!

  • David Wiegler

    I predict that the Sheriff will come out of this stronger than ever. These bozos are messing with the wrong guy.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_tab_pro Ann Garrison

    @Daniele E.: I think that what the City has been doing to this family, with obvious political motivation, is a disgrace, and I don’t think so out of “loyalty to a political figure.” I was still so angry at Ross Mirkarimi, re a vote and an incident that were barely a blip on the SF.gov screen, that I didn’t even give him my 1st ranked choice vote in last November’s election. I voted for Paul Miyamoto, the candidate the deputies endorsed, first, Ross Mirkarimi second, no one third.

    Pre-trial diversion was, I believe, Kamala Harris’s way of dealing with first time domestic violence allegations, and that not only would have been infinitely more respectful to the Mirkarimi-Lopez family but would also, I”m sure, have stirred Ross M. into addressing his anger management issues.

  • Richmondman

    Ross has been his own worst enemy during this. From the “Private Matter” statement, to being labled a “tyrant” by his own lawyer, and then Ross firing his lawyer the next day, Ross has made himself an easy target to those who dislike him. But the City, and the DA’s office in particular, is going to cross T’s and dot i’s to make sure Domestic Violence advocates don’t criticize their handling of the case, as they did about Kamala Harris’ inept, or unethical handling of the Hayes-White incident.

  • Daniele E.

    Tami—
    In your first sentence you write: You do not know me therefore I find your assessment of me profoundly flawed.
    Well it’s funny, but that is the point I was trying to make: how do you know what was on that video? You don’t. But yet you are making assumptions that, of course, you can go ahead and make.

    You also say: I find unnecessarily traumatizing an innocent child at such a crucial stage in his development to be morally reprehensible and indefensible. Well again, to have a child be in the midst of violence between his parents is the issue at hand (from what we’ve learned). That—studies show—has an impact. So something had to be nipped in the bud, so to speak, and I’m glad, really glad it has been.
    I don’t buy this notion of a 2 1/2 year old being traumatized here by being away from one parent for 3-4 weeks (however long the time was). It’s up to the parent in charge to simply explain to the child that some emergency happened and daddy had to leave but will be back soon and he loves you very much. Now I don’t know Eliana, don’t know how much equanimity she did or did not keep with her child, but at 2 1/2, i don’t think you really are cognizant to too much. You will put a lot of stock in what your guardian says, and I can only hope Eliana did her best to assuage the child’s missing the father. That is my take. You can have yours.

    I noticed, after having read many comments in a few political blogs, that here and there, interspersed between the mostly politically-motivated (ie read “divisive”) mind-gyrations, a few people who seemed to be in the know about domestic violence cases and how they’re handled. And they said that no, this is the way it’s done. And that there is no unusual treatment here. Maybe they were lying. Maybe they don’t know what they are talking about. But I really don’t see the separation of the couple at this time–heavy-handed as it might appear on the surface–to be a bad thing. A little space to learn some skills–which we could all use at one time or other, myself included–a little time to catch one’s breath, and maybe it’s taking precautions too about keeping the defense’s story clean–is okay by me. The two in question are adults, and they will weather this. Sure it’s weird to be a known public figure and therefore be in the spotlight, which could make it uncomfortable for this couple…but in the end it’s a human story which i hope will have its happy ending in the form of skills gained, issues that are important brought to the public’s attention. That’s all i care about. As you said, we’ll see.

  • Daniele E.

    @Ann. As I’m not a lawyer, I can’t really comment on Pre-trial diversion. Could there have been other ways to proceed with this case? Maybe so. But again, I won’t subscribe to the notion of “politically-motivated” intent until that, in fact, is proven to me. It’s too easy to assume…

    My hope is for some learning to take place—on the couple’s part, and on the public’s part. My hope is for a child to grow up without seeing repeated fights between his parents. My hope is that we all learn to deal with conflict in nonviolent ways. My hope too is that this all gets resolved quickly and fairly and that in hindsight maybe, just maybe, the couple will be glad it happened. That’s possible, you know. And in the end, I’m glad this country and this city take domestic violence seriously. That’s a good thing. Peace is what we’re after.