Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sleeping With The Enemy: SF's New Sheriff Arrested for Domestic Violence

I know that we've all been distracted by the GOP primary but I'm surprised the story of San Francisco's newly elected sheriff being arrested on a domestic violence charge hasn't received wider notice:
As San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi fights three criminal charges stemming from accusations that he physically abused his wife, he also is battling for his political future.
District Attorney George Gascón on Friday charged Mirkarimi with domestic violence battery of his wife, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with an incident that prosecutors believe happened on New Year's Eve.

"No one is above the law," Gascón said. "Whether this was the elected sheriff or any other San Francisco resident, this type of behavior is inexcusable, criminal and will be prosecuted."
The sheriff was booked and released from the jail he oversees on $35,000 bail. He will probably be arraigned on Tuesday.
Mirkarimi, who was sworn in as sheriff less than a week ago, said he is innocent of the charges and refused to step down while the legal case plays out.
"I believe in the system. I've said that all along," Mirkarimi said. "I believe that these charges are very unfounded, and we will fight these charges. I'm confident that in the end that we will succeed in showing the missteps."
"Sheriff" Mirkarimi was elected to office last November, and was sworn into office just last week. He is no law enforcement officer. Rather, he is former member of the Board of Supervisors who was termed out of office, and looking for another elective post. Color me skeptical as to whether an SF Green could ever be an effective sheriff, although it looks increasingly unlikely his term will last 4 weeks, let alone the full 4 years.

The DV charge arose after his wife, Eliana Lopez, who is some kind of Venezuelan soap opera star, went to a neighbor's house to commiserate over a New Year's Eve fight between the couple, and the neighbor - an attorney with the improbable name "Ivory Madison" - saw a bruise on the wife's arm that the wife admitted was caused by Mirkarimi grabbing her during the argument. Ivory took some pictures and went to the police. Supposedly, Lopez is not enthusiastic about making charges against her husband. Then, again, she was seen wandering around the periphery of an anti-Mirkarimi rally last Thursday, so I think it's safe to say she is of two minds on the issue.

(btw, what kind of social justice can there be in the world when a whiny progressive like Mirkarimi can be married to a Venezuelan TV star and be elected sheriff, despite a complete absence of any crime fighting experience?)

Mirkarimi says he's going to fight this thing tooth and nail, which is fine, but who is he fighting? It's not like evil Republicans are making trouble for him. Some of the earliest calls for him to step down have come from his (former) supporters! Is he going to call his wife a liar? Or his neighbor?

Like it or not - and count me in the "not" faction - Mirkarimi is a law enforcement officer, which requires a higher standard of behavior than we typically expect from politicians, even by the lax standards of San Francisco. Among other things, the Sheriff's Department operates the jail, transports prisoners, and provides baliff's for SF's courtrooms. The SF Superior Court's presiding judge already refused to swear Mirkarimi in precisely because of the seriousness of the charges against him. The longer this goes on, the more Mirkarimi and his colleagues are going to run into these sorts of awkward problems. Having Ross Mirkarimi serving as San Francisco's sheriff was already something of a joke. This mess pushes things up to the level of tragic farce.

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