Judge Rules Video Can Be Used Against Ousted S.F. Sheriff Mirkarimi

By: Brian Shields - Tue, 15 May 2012 18:28:16 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) --  A video at the center of the criminal case against suspended San  Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi can be used in the upcoming administrative  hearing on his suspension, a judge ruled.

      The video is of Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, who was taped by a  neighbor on Jan. 1 crying and pointing to a bruise on her arm that she said  was caused when Mirkarimi grabbed her during an argument the previous day,  police and prosecutors said.

      After the neighbor, Ivory Madison, called police to report the  incident, Mirkarimi was arrested two weeks later and eventually pleaded  guilty to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge before the case went to  trial.

      He was sentenced on March 19 to three years' probation and other  penalties and was suspended without pay two days later by Mayor Ed Lee on  official misconduct charges.

      Mirkarimi has a right to a hearing at the city's Ethics  Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on  whether to uphold the charges and remove the suspended sheriff from office.

      The city attorney's office had sought a copy of the video from the  Police Department, which had seized it from Madison's home with a search  warrant.

      San Francisco Superior Court Judge Garrett Wong granted the  release of the video over the vociferous opposition of Lopez's  attorney, Paula Canny.

      Canny said the video should not be released "out of respect for  crime victims."

      She said, "It has to do with my client not wanting her image to  last on the Internet into perpetuity."

      Following Wong's ruling, Canny talked to reporters outside the  courtroom, speaking strongly against the judge and San Francisco's district  and city attorney's offices for their actions in the case and saying she will  appeal the ruling.

      "The court has inherent jurisdiction to protect people," she said.  "They don't want to protect Eliana, they don't want to protect her rights.  They're so out of their minds to get Ross Mirkarimi that they don't care who  they step on."

      Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith countered that "when a claim of  privacy is made, one of the things that's relevant under the law is the  extent to which the matter is already public."

      Keith said Lopez "has made repeated public statements about the  videotape, she has attacked its credibility and attacked the motives of the  prosecution in the case and she has made a range of statements about the  case. Given that, we think the court was correct" in its ruling.

      He said the city attorney's office plans to get a copy of the  video made from the Police Department and will present it at the Ethics  Commission hearing.

      Whether the video would be able to be seen by the public "would be  up to the Ethics Commission to decide," he said, adding that the mayor's  position is that the proceedings should be "open and public."

      The next Ethics Commission hearing on the Mirkarimi case is  scheduled for May 29. The hearing is expected to only address rules and  procedures and to schedule future dates for the proceedings, which could take  months.

(Copyright 2012, Bay City News, All rights reserved.)
     
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