Perspective and proportion

As the Ethics Commission finishes taking testimony in Mirkarimi inquiry, the evidence on most charges seems increasingly thin

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Ross Mirkarimi’s wife, Eliana Lopez, took the focus as the Ethics Commission wrapped up evidence-gathering in his trial.
MIKE KOOZIN/SF NEWSPAPER CO.

steve@sfbg.com

In the eyes of his critics, suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi may never be able to recover from the portrayal by prosecutors and Mayor Ed Lee that he abused his wife, intimidated her with threats to use his power to take custody of their young son if they divorced, and used her and his campaign manager to try to dissuade witnesses and thwart a police investigation.

The tearful video of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, displaying the bruise on her arm, and the fact that Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false-imprisonment charge in connection with the incident are all these critics need to condemn him. Indeed, it was all that Lee relied on when he suspended Mirkarimi without pay and launched unprecedented official misconduct proceedings to remove him from office.

But now that the Ethics Commission has gotten through the substance of its inquiry — and past the tedious work of creating from scratch systems and standards for gathering evidence and evaluating whether it warrants an elected official's removal by the mayor — the testimony has told a very different story of what really happened.

Accusations of witness dissuasion (which had been one of three original criminal charges Mirkarimi faced before agreeing to a lesser plea deal) and abusing his official position haven't been supported by any direct evidence or testimony, and as the hearings wore on, Deputy City Attorneys Peter Keith and Sherri Kaiser were looking increasingly vindictive as they fruitlessly pursued those angles with witnesses who seemed credible.

There is also no direct evidence that the abuse was anything more than a moment of frustration and bad judgment at noontime on Dec. 31, when Mirkarimi grabbed Lopez's arm as she tried to walk away from their heated argument about divorce child custody, and she yanked it away, eight days before his swearing in as sheriff.

Whether that incident and its aftermath meets the City Charter's broad and untested definition of official misconduct — including "conduct that falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officials" — will be up to the interpretation of the Ethics Commission, which has now accepted all the evidence that it has deemed relevant and credible. All that remains is the fight over its "finding of fact" at an Aug. 16 hearing and its subsequent recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which could begin considering the matter in September.

There won't be an inquiry into whether Mayor Lee committed perjury on June 29, as outside witnesses said he did on two separate issues. The commission July 19 rejected the argument by Mirkarimi's attorneys that Lee's alleged lies under oath would cast doubt over his reasons for launching these unprecedented proceedings and the discretionary judgment he exercised. Commissioners decided that was a tangential issue.

In the final hour of the commission's laborious work in whittling down the voluminous evidence that the city has presented in this case — which both sides and the commission openly acknowledge will likely be considered by the courts as well as the board — it also made deep cuts into the written testimony of attorney Nancy Lemon, a domestic violence expert who drew damning conclusions about Mirkarimi based on how "batterers" typically behave.

That's been a big part of the city's case, reducing Mirkarimi down to a two-dimensional batterer whose every action can be predicted by that distinction, from the manner in which he relinquished his weapons to police to the reasons why Lopez has resisted cooperating with efforts to charge her husband with crimes and remove him from office.

Comments

Jason Grant Garza here ... yes, my prediction is coming TRUE ... no investigation by DA, none by ETHICS regarding the MAYOR testimony. Over as million for ROSS' case in front of ETHICS for his "DOUBLE JEOPARDY" to EXTRACT a "POUND of FLESH" but no ETHICS, MORALS or "RIGHT CONDUCT" to insure the MAYOR is above reproach. The BOMB scare will be the same.

The city does not play by the same rules, laws or consequences. What do I mean ... in my case C02-3485PJH the city "TESTILIES" in 2003 to have my case dismissed after my MEDICAL DENIAL and FALSE ARREST in 2001. In 2007, not because the city cared or HAD ETHICS ... it signed a "confession/settlement agreement" with the OFFICE of INSPECTOR GENERAL admitting fault and guilt for breaking FEDERAL LAW against me. This was not again out of the city's kindness nor desire to do the right thing; rather, my continuing AGAINST ALL ODDS. Afterwards, I asked the PERJURY to be INVESTIGATED ... mind you the OFFICE of INSPECTOR GENERAL with a signed confession did NOT. It is now 2012 ... go to http://www.myownprivateguantanamo.com to see the paperwork on the web for free ... any more questions? The difference is I warned the court 2003 in the paperwork (perjury) ... the confession was 2007 ... and NOW no investigation ... doesn't it seem familiar ?

Yes, the LAW that NO MAN is ABOVE and the MEDICAL field "TO DO NO HARM" yet http://www.myownprivateguantanamo.com prove the failing rigged method and when BUSTED ... no investigation, no correction ... just move on to the NEXT VICTIM and say we care. Same story, different day ...

Yes, I have been called a lunatic, crazy, the elephant in the room; yet I have the paperwork and it is on the web to show the "METHODOLOGY" used.

So when is the NEXT CRISES that the MAYOR is awaiting in ORDER for this (Perjury investigation, etc) to GO FAR FAR AWAY ... non-existent ... what testimony, what bomb scare ... ha,ha,ha.

"Telling the TRUTH during times of UNIVERSAL DECEIT is a REVOLUTIONARY Act." George Orwell

Again go to http://www.myownprivateguantanamo.com to see HOW the city PLAYS the LEGAL GAME and what it's consequences are if it DOES NOT follow the LAW ... and NOTE what the INNOCENT VINDICATED VICTIM got beside and arrest record for never having been arrest sitting next to a signed confession for a CRIME the CITY committed. Yes, it is my BADGE of COURAGE and the PROOF that the CITY has no MORALS, ETHICS, fear of the LAW nor HUMANITY.

It is NICE to be "KING" MAYOR.

The FARCE continues ....

Justice for the RICH and JUST THIS for US ... keep drinking the KOOL-AIDE.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 7:44 am

I watched all the testimony on sfgov tv and this description is absolutely accurate.

The fact is that Mirkarimi really ought to have been able to fight this in court where he ought to have been exonerated, but after the judgement regarding the video and relocating the trial -- remember the billboards being put up within blocks of the courthouse for the express purpose of being visible to prospective jurors? -- and the fact that he didn't have the resources to match those attacking him, his attorneys can hardly be faulted for taking the route that was taken.

Lee and his cronies and cheerleaders *should* be ashamed of themselves. For the most part they have used false arguments and innuendo to smear the sheriff to the detriment of their own reputations.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 8:17 am

So I guess the question now is when can the Sheriff start back to work?

Posted by MsUnderstanding on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

Because some people showed up to his hearing with signs?

Mirkarimi is fatally damaged and if he resumes his office this will be a Pyrrhic victory of enormous proportions for progressives. Steven is either too stupid or obstinate, or perhaps both, to understand this.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

And none of the Ross supporters can answer is how can Ross realistically go back to being sheriff and discipline deputies accused of similar crimes to his. How can he suspend or fire them when he is on probation himself????

Just the other day a sheriffs lieutenant was arrested int he Castro for dv. He is now on admin duties and should be fired if he is convicted. Just like Ross.

Posted by D. native on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

don't apply to their boss. That seems to be the only reasonable conclusion when examining the progressive argument that Mirkarimi should remain sheriff.

Although how we're going to have a sheriff who cannot carry a weapon because he's on parole is something I don't think anyone has an answer for - other than to say it doesn't really matter.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

want.

Dnative, dry your crocodile tears. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi plead guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. We *know* that the DA did *not* have evidence on the witness intimidation charge which was dropped, and we *know* that the DA did not have evidence of a pattern of abuse despite the best crystal ball gazing from their star expert witness on domestic violence.

Troll II, Ross doesn't really need to carry a gun as Sheriff, but since he *didn't* plead guilty to any domestic violence crimes, his isn't precluded from carrying a weapon as though he did. Get it? ?

By the way Troll II, Ross Mirkarimi couldn't carry a weapon based on the court stay away order (which was based on the DA's flimsy case) but that order has been vacated so that Ross can hold hands and stuff with his own wife again. God you must be *bummed!*

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

of perjury by the mayor yet that hasn't shut you up about that spurious allegation for the past month.

How exactly does that work? When Mirkarimi isn't charged then that's an exoneration but when the mayor isn't charged that's evidence of a vast conspiracy?

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

City Attorney's office's failure to bring any evidence of his guilt on those dropped charges.

Conversely, there is evidence of Lee's perjury -- such as a text message to Aaron Peskin from Wong -- but the District Attorney is strangely reticent about investing his office's capability into rooting it out. That would be quite easy to do compared to the heavy lifting his office did to get Mirkarimi so heavily charged and restrained from seeing his wife in the first place, but we know the real reason is that Gascon is not willing to go up against the mayor.

You, strangely, applaud that.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

Excuse me, but how can a text message from Wong to Peskin POSSIBLY be evidence to show that Lee committed perjury? Are you really that stupid or do you just act that way? The evidence that Lee committed perjury would have to come from Lee, not Wong. Wong could say that Lee shot JFK. Doesn't mean that it's true. It ain't evidence, sorry.

You want to know why the DA is 'strangely reticent'? It's because he has some basic understanding of how the law works.

#lame

Posted by Archibald Flatiron on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

Can you believe it?

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

It is the 'it's a crime, unless a progressive commits a crime, then it's a witch hunt' crowd.

Posted by GuestOfNoOne on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

No amount of text messages, phone records, corroborating testimony, could possibly prove anything.

I get it now. Sorry for being so dense.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 5:01 am

Being sorry doesn't help.

I've seen that text message that you call evidence. It doesn't address the issue of a job being offered and it doesn't address the (very strong) possibility that Wong was freelancing. Yes, the Mayor probably was happy that even Peskin knew that Mirkarimi should resign after being convicted.

Just because you want it to be evidence to support your side doesn't make it so. There is evidence that could implicate Lee. But that text that you call evidence isn't even close.

Posted by Archibald Flatiron on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 5:55 am

"Being sorry doesn't help"

So, Archie, the text message doesn't address the issue of a job being offered -- but you do aknowledge that it was from Wong in the days prior to Ross' plea agreement, and you do aknowledge that Wong is a powerful character among the city's power elite. Good. That's a start.

Now, let's see: the ethics commission declined to subpeona and question the personages involved under oath because they ruled that any perjury by the mayor would be irrelevant to the case before them -- did you get that? -- but the DA would certainly be justified in following up on allegations -- from *two* sources -- of Lee's perjury simply based on his duty to enforce the law.

Your answer is that there is no evidence. That's what an investigation is for.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 6:29 am

To what level would misconduct by the prosecutor/mayor have to rise in order for Ethics [sic] or the DA to investigate?

There is something fishy that the average San Franciscan gets when a felony is apparently perpetrated in order to discipline a political opponent for a pled down misdemeanor.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 7:27 am

Look, you're becoming increasingly incoherent and I have to go to work.

All I can tell you is that, back on planet Earth, you don't start an investigation because Peskin said that Wong may have said that Lee said something.

They won't start an investigation of the Mayor just because you don't like him.

Deal with it.

Posted by Archibald Flatiron on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 7:30 am

Well, no amount of text messages, phone records, or corroborating testimony will convince you that Mirkarimi and Haynes convinced Lopez to change her story, so here we are.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:18 am

You could put the mayor, Peskin, Walker and Wong under oath, and demand to know what those text messages were about. A crack attorney (unlike those incompetent disasters Peter Keith and Sherri Kaiser) could uncover the truth through a thorough cross examination. For instance, who was Wong referring to in his email when he mentioned "our friend". Why the circumlocution? Was he being circumspect because it was the mayor he was referring to? Why was he thanking Peskin for his "help" in the matter? Indeed, what was the matter he was referring to? Peskin could respond to that under oath as well. We could find out a great deal by putting the various parties under oath. By the same token, we'll learn ZERO if we fail to pursue it. And I think it's worth pursuing because it involves a high official trying to topple a duly elected public servant.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

Every time I see one of these Lee perjury posts I am amazed at the simplemindedness of its advocates. So let me work through this through for you, although I know that it won't help:

"For instance, who was Wong referring to in his email when he mentioned "our friend".

Answer: He was most likely referring to Mayor Lee although it could have been someone else involved on the Mayor's side.

::"Why the circumlocution? Was he being circumspect because it was the mayor he was referring to?"

Answer: It was a text message, for crissakes. It wasn't a sworn deposition and he didn't think that it would become front page news to be analyzed letter by letter for maximum clarity.

::Why was he thanking Peskin for his "help" in the matter? Indeed, what was the matter he was referring to?

Answer: He was most likely referring to Peskin's public efforts to get Mirkarimi to resign and no doubt he was encouraging it.

And the part of that text message that indicates that Lee offered a job to Mirkarimi?

That part exists only in the fantasies of a small handful of Mirkarimi apologists. It doesn't exist in nature but, like tinkerbelle, the tooth fairy and santa claus, it thrives in small childish minds that really want it to exist.

But grownups have to make the big decisions on this one and they aren't using schoolyard 'He called you a liar' rules. They look for patterns, trends and corroboration. None of which exist here.

BTW, here is a question for you...Wong has had a positive personal relationship with Mirkarimi for years. Why did they need Peskin to convey a job offer?

Huh?

Posted by Tired Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

Citation please for your "Wong has had a poisitive personal relationship with Mirkarimi" statement.

I think a more striking question is why would the Lee camp engage in such absurd and risky negotiations? Answer: because they knew their case was vaporware.

And I do want that citation, but in regards to your question, it might make sense to involve someone more neutral in such a sensitive negotiation in order to convince the subject that the deal would be honored.

"Tired Guest" why not put a lid on your superior attitude. I can quite certainly tell from here that you do not rate it.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

WTF is up with this place? Demand 'citations' from me and then talk about MY superior attitude? I knew that the SFBG readership demos were in the toilet but apparently someone forgot to flush.

Fine.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Ed-Lee-s-testimony-cha...

Matier & Ross:

"San Francisco businessman Walter Wong - a friend of both the mayor and Mirkarimi"

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/07/da-rejects-mayor-ed-lee-perjury-...

“I know Walter has been a friend of Mr. Mirkarimi, so maybe he was trying to help him.” (Willie Brown quote)

And your line about Peskin being neutral was a joke, right? Does he seem neutral to you right now? Do you know anything about Peskin's history with Ed Lee? If that part isn't a joke than there is nothing that I can do to help you, sorry.

Posted by Disgusted Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

Matier & Ross gossip column as justification for your claim?

Holy Christ, something just told me you were assaying a Goebbels gambit.

Like I said, you *definitely* don't rate.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

"Heavy lifting"? The evidence against Mirkarimi for the D.A.'s initial charges was much more ample than in most DV cases.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:16 am

the EC hearing room: a big zero when you toss out what amounted to crystal ball-gazing by expert witnesses.

If it were otherwise, then the case for suspending him wouldn't be in such a shambles. Remember that he was charged with witness intimidation, domestic violence, child endangerment. Bogus.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

to answer the question. The issue is not whether or not Ross can continue to serve as Sheriff- He has not been convicted of aa felony so he can, the issue is whether or not he should- whether or not he has lost credibility to lead a law enforcement agency.

Again I ask- how can he suspend/fire a deputy who commits DV ? when he himself is on probation and in DV counseling? Sorry no one with that record should be carrying a badge.

Posted by D.native on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 7:28 am

You can look at it however you like -- as always -- and I'll continue to see it the way I do. The fact is that Ross was *not* convicted of DV so he can carry a weapon and there is *no* reason to think he can't do his job running the sheriff's department.

Wingers will typically trip over themselves defending brutal cops; funny how moral relativism appears in the most unlikely places sometimes.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 7:50 am

because the fact is that Ross will essentially be powerless to fire deputies convicted of crimes while off-duty. A potential applicant could even be on active misdemeanor probation and get hired on by the SFSD or the SFSD could get sued- different standards for Ross and the rest. I will be watching the vote when the BoS and will certainly remember who votes for Ross to stay in office.

Posted by D.native on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 8:49 am

Mirkarimi's authority to be sheriff comes from the people of the City and County of San Francisco.

You aren't the only one who'll be watching -- and remembering -- how the supes vote on this bogus attack on Ross and the people's voting rights.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:10 am

By your logic, Congress wouldn't have had the right to impeach and remove Nixon, whom the American people in all their wisdom reelected in 1974.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:22 am

Richard Nixon participated in a criminal conspiracy to coverup a criminal break-in and wiretapping at the Democratic Central Committee offices and numerous other crimes committed against the American system of government, including obstruction of justice and defying a congressional subpeona.

Ross Mirkarimi turned the family van around when they were headed to a restaurant and later momentarily grabbed his wife's arm during a heated argument; that isn't the kind of behavior even Ross Mirkarimi's most ardent supporters will vouch for, but it hardly cuts at the integrity of our system of government for the people to give him a second chance.

To even spell it out for you makes me feel a bit dirty. That was a real stinker, Guest.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

(Same Guest, blushing face.)

I meant 1972, of course.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:23 am

But really the moral authority. Seriously how do you look a deputy in the face and tell him he is losing his job because of a DV related conviction (as he should) if you yourself are on probation for a DV related conviction?? Of course Ross has a reputation as arrogant and an all around ass, so he could probably do it and not lose sleep or even see the conflict.

Posted by D.native on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:55 am

Ross plead guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment. He did not plead guilty to DV. If a deputy is found guilty of DV -- and therefor cannot carry a firearm, it would be very hard to say he could still do his job. Capeche? Non?

Of course not. You want to go on conflating Mirkarimi's case with others and use your made-up term "dv-related" to falsely connect them together. Bogus.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 11:15 am

reinstated. Should Lee consider resigning if he can't work with other elected officials?

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

The answer is Yes. You need only read The Washington Monthly blog for more reasons why -- all about Willie's puppet mister Ed Lee.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/julyaugust_2012/features/the_p...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

Brown? And because some of Brown's actions have the hint of questionable ethics behind them?

OK - thanks for that. Maybe Obama should resign because some people don't like some of his backers and because in all likelihood you have big problems with him too.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

dislike Willie Brown.

Excellent article, Guest, a must read explanation of why the answer to Troll II's question is *YES*.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

How's that working out these days?

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

The people voted Ed Lee into office just as much as they did Ross Mirkarimi. Why should one be removed by legal/administrative action while the other shouldn't?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 9:25 am

perjury while in the commission (ostensibly) of their official duties -- and the other committed no felony whatsoever and no crime at all during their term of office.

Seems to present a pretty stark contrast.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

while there's no evidence of another's involvement in one other than a text message and third-party hearsay.

Seems to present a pretty stark contrast.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

investigative time by the district attorneys office resulted in the cobbling together of enough evidence (and psuedo-evidence) to bring charges; and after billboards were put up in view of the courthouse proclaiming the guilt of the accused and much other prejudicial information was leaked to the press; and motions to quash evidence based on the "customary" attorney client privelege were denied as well as a motion to change the venue...

... and in the other case, there is no investigation; nobody being questioned, no warrants for phone records, etc.

That *is* a stark contrast.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

The Mayor should be investigated IF there is evidence of perjury, which Peskin's is not.
And a convicted criminal and admitted domestic violence abuser should NOT be Sheriff.
I care nothing for their politics, unlike the extreme bias of Pro-Ross Bay Guardian posters and Pro-Lee supporters that post there pathetic excuses on how 'their guy' is in the right.

Posted by GuestOfNoOne on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

You are obviously for the mayor getting off scott free since you claim that Peskin's testimony & the email from Wong are not evidence. You can't tell what the evidence is if you're not inclined to hear it, Mr. or Ms. See No Evil Monkey.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

is the Zodiac killer. I'd like him brought in and thoroughly investigated please.

Posted by Troll II on Jul. 27, 2012 @ 4:57 pm