Ross, Eliana and Theo Mirkarimi Reunited

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on July 20, 2012 with 13 Comments

Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, beamed joy and relief during a celebration today following the lifting of a stay away order this morning imposed in January following a domestic violence incident on December 31. Photo by Lou Gordon via Facebook.

By Luke Thomas

July 20, 2012

It couldn’t have come soon enough, but today Eliana Lopez and suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and their three-year old son, Theo, are reunited and repatriated, thanks to the lifting of a stay away order imposed on the couple in January.

“We’re ecstatic,” Mirkarimi said following the hearing and after the couple embraced and kissed.

Following the hearing, the couple departed together and joined with friends to celebrate.

The stay away order was lifted following Lopez’s testimony before the San Francisco Ethics Commission last eve during which she said her husband never abused her, nor did he abuse her on December 31 when the couple argued over Lopez’s desire to return to Venezuela with the couple’s son for several months.  The argument was particularly tense, Lopez testified, because the couple was dealing with the prospect of a possible divorce and child custody battle.

During the argument, Lopez testified Mirkarimi grabbed her arm for “one second” during which Lopez reflexively yanked her arm away which, she said, contributed to her bruising.

“I bruise easily,” she said.

Eliana Lopez demonstrated before the Ethics Commission last eve how she reflexively yanked her arm away when her husband grabbed it during a heated argument on December 31. Photo by Luke Thomas.

During her testimony, Lopez said she trusted her friend and neighbor, Ivory Madison, and allowed Madison, at Madison’s urging, to record a video of the bruise which Madison said could be used to “screw” Mirkarimi if the couple entered into a child custody battle.

But on January 4th, without permission or consulting Lopez, Madison reported the December 31 incident to police saying she had a video of a tearful Lopez pointing to a bruise on her inner right arm saying, “This is the second time this is happening.”

Lopez clarified her video comment to the Ethics Commission saying it was the second time the couple had argued about their problems.  The first time was in March last year, she said.

Under California law, all reports of alleged domestic violence must be investigated, a fact Madison, who holds a law degree but is not licensed to practice law, would have known.  Lopez has maintained from the outset that because Madison represented herself as an attorney, Lopez relied on Madison’s confidence and an implied attorney-client privilege.

That confidence was betrayed, Lopez testified, later adding under cross-examination by Mirkarimi defense co-counsel Shepard Kopp that she “absolutely” regrets ever making the video or trusting her so-called “friend.”

Lopez testified Madison, who donated to Mirkarimi’s campaign for sheriff, is friends with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Attorney General Kamala Harris, each of whom endorsed Chris Cunnie in the race for San Francisco Sheriff.

Following Mirkarimi’s plea to one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment in March, Mayor Ed Lee seized upon an opportunity to remove a political rival from office, suspending the democratically elected progressive sheriff without pay and later using the media to label Mirkarimi a “wife beater” after the mayor allegedly perjured himself during his testimony before the Ethics Commission.

Mirkarimi’s defense counsel had sought to subpoena four witnesses to testify under penalty of perjury, including Lee-appointed District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, to adjudicate Lee’s alleged perjury, a formal request that was denied by the commission last eve.

The commission said though it took allegations of felony perjury seriously, it was a matter for the district attorney to investigate.  District Attorney George Gascón previously said he would “evaluate” whether to prosecute the perjury allegations once the Ethics Commission “does its work” to adjudicate the allegations.

“Given that the Ethics Commission determined that they’re not going to do anything with the allegations that the mayor perjured himself and committed felony perjury, we look forward to District Attorney Gascón taking these allegations seriously and investigating them wherever they may lead and pursuing that investigation with all the seriousness that it warrants and that his office requires him to do,” said Mirkarimi co-defense counsel David Waggoner.

The Ethics Commission, which is tasked with collecting evidence and making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, reconvenes August 16 when closing arguments are expected to be heard. The commission also instructed attorneys to file briefs on the broad definition of official misconduct as defined in the City Charter, and to support arguments with legal precedents.

In the case of Mazzola vs. City and County of San Francisco, an appellate decision overturning then-Airport Commissioner Joseph Mazzola’s suspension, states, “Quite clearly, official misconduct requires a direct relationship of the alleged wrongdoing to the office held.”

The Board of Supervisors will ultimately decide if Mirkarimi will be reinstated to the office he was elected to serve.  Nine of eleven supervisors must vote in the affirmative to remove an elected official from office.

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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  • PatrickMonkRn

    DON’T HATE ON ME.
    I continue to be impressed by the way Ben Hur is conducting these proceedings, he can drive my chariot any day. He seems personable, objective, thoughtful, decisive and well prepared; unlike “Stumblin’ Sherri” who must have got her degree from an on-line diploma mill – if Mr Ed looses he can always appeal on the grounds of incompetent representation.
    Here’s where I may piss off some companeros. I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest grouchy old tack in the box (welcome back h), I just call it as I ‘feel’ it. Waggoner’s final appeal to call witnesses to testify under oath was pretty compelling, even The Chief Commish acknowledged that, but I think his ruling that possible perjury by the Mayor was ‘irrelevant’, and beyond the scope of ‘official misconduct’ that they have to decide on, was probably the appropriate ruling. 
     We all know that lies, deceit, corruption, nepotism, back-room deals, ad nauseam; are SOP down at Shitty Hall, and that acquiescence to this business as usual model is almost a prerequisite for election or appointment to a position of ‘public trust’. The charioteer’s decision to focus on their narrowly defined chartered obligation and then hand over the reins to our elected ‘representatives’ was probably the wisest move. I just hope that the possible perjury committed by the Mayor will be pursued with as much zeal, allocation of public resources, official investigation – including sworn testimony – as has been demonstrated in these proceedings. Please correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t it the ‘sworn duty’ of the City Attorney to investigate such allegations.
     While I’m ranting I would like to draw your attention to a motion submitted by Supervisors Avalos, Campos and Olague, that is on the agenda for next Tuesday’s full board meeting. It would put San Francisco on record as supporting the move to OVERTURN CITIZEN’S UNITED. Please contact your Supervisors and ask them to vote in favor. Let’s make this unanimous. In my not so humble opinion this is possibly the most critical issue of our time. If we can’t reverse this abomination then  it doesn’t matter how many little victories we may have, we will have lost the war, and no amount of self congratulation or gratification can obscure the reality that we are just pissing in the wind.
    Just my thruppence.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZDBXm11WXY

    • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

      It would have been altogether different if Benedict Hur had announced that the Commission would inform the District Attorney that they have no reason to believe that investigating whether or not the Mayor committed the felony of perjury would interfere with the current proceedings.

    • CitiReport

      They should have recused themselves and sent this to AG Harris. They have too many conflicts in a case like this. I was surprised that they did not even ask their attorney, Scott Embridge, for an opinion on the request. What creates skepticism about this ruling is that the Commission failed to ask Ed Lee a single question after his testimony — and he was the only one who was asked no questions.
      The perjury is directly relevant because, as the commission heard his testify, the decision to file charges is discretionary, he has no written policy and had not given it any thought prior to this. The result raises the issue of impermissible bias that taints the entire process, probably fatally should this end up in a courtroom.

      • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

        Ha!  You think Kamala Harris wouldn’t have conflicts with this?  She’s a machine politician through and through.  Dare I mention Willie Brown, the limo, and the best career move of her life?  

        The first time he ran in D5, Ross said he was going to have to win the election or find another job, because he’d been working for the DA’s office as an investigator and Kamala Harris was about to fire everyone who had supported Matt Gonzalez for mayor.

      • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

        In the KPFA News I just posted here, Ross said the FBi should investigate the bomb scare because the unbiased prosecutorial will could not be found at the municipal OR state level.

        • craeg

          Because the FBI has nothing better to do then investigate someone prank calling a police station in a city of significantly less then a million people. Give me a break! Not everyone cares about Ross Mirkarimi.

  • PatrickMonkRn

    PS.
    If they can’t recapture this for themselves, I hope they can hold onto the feelings for Theo’s sake.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RaF-iq-_Is

  • Tami

    A wonderful article about a long overdue reunion. I had reflected, that at least initially, from the “professionals'” point of view, there was a legitimate basis for a limited order so that IF she truly was in any danger, she could get the aid that she needs in that time. But after that time, if they both want to be together, then there has been no justification to not allow them to be together as a family for the last six + months! 
    The photo of Eliana is incredible.
    Thanks for your excellent report and photo!

    • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

      Second on the photo.  And I think this caption would suit as well as what she was saying at the time at the hearing:  

      “These domestic violence advocates who say they want to protect me. . . Thanks for nothing!  Ivory Madison, thanks for nothing!”  (What Eliana told one of the TV news crews on Friday, at Paula Canny’s Burlingame law offices.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

    Here’s an extended version of my conversation with Ross, broadcast on KPFA last night, 06.21.2012,  http://www.anngarrison.com/audio/ross-on-eliana-ethics-and-mayor-ed-lee, including his response to the implausible bomb scare and the perjury allegations against Mayor Ed Lee.  

    Attached is a screenshot of the atrociously written, grammatically and insolubly ambiguous –  – section of the City Charter that was one of several things we talked about.  It now looks to me as though the Board of Supervisors that was too cheap or sloppy to hire a copyeditor for $10 – $20/hr. before adding this section to the City Charter has cost the taxpayers a huge amount of money, including the cost of paying Deputy City Attorney Cheri Kaiser to churn out another 25 pages in support of her interpretation.  (Red highlights of the ambiguity are mine.  Is the second bit of text in red part of the all but impossibly large noun that makes up the first???)

    Of course there’s far more that’s rotten in Denmark than bad grammar, but even the Chronicle couldn’t dispute that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LSBUHQYPHL2GEESTZGNXZGB2EY sfsoma

    Reunited and repatriated?  Hardly, she has gone back to Venezuela and the child never left.  I assume Ms Garrison means 07.21.2012.  Often a little off with the facts, she is.

    • http://www.facebook.com/annie.garrison Ann Garrison

      Thanks for the proofread, sfsoma.   Yes, I did produce that news on 07.21.2012, last Saturday, not 06.21.2012.  Please be specific re any real facts; that was a proofreading error here in the comments section of FCJ, now corrected with your kind assistance.

  • Vivian

    Excellent coverage of a compelling story. The separation of the family was horrendous and the entire process cruel and unusual punishment. Thank you for this well-written coverage.