Mirkarimi lawyer tries to move trial out of town

March 5, 2012 6:51:08 PM PST
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's attorney is trying to get his trial moved out of San Francisco.

The attorney for Mirkarimi, Lidia Stiglich, is trying to get his trial moved out of town and she filed the request Monday morning in Superior Court. Mirkarimi's lawyer is concerned about publicity in this case and now she has one more thing to worry about. The testimony of an ex-girlfriend of Mirkarimi's will be allowed in this case.

"You have the publicity, you have the unique facts of this case given his position in the community. You have pretty much an onslaught of [media] coverage to which the citizens of San Francisco are entitled, but he's also entitled to a fair trial," said Stiglich.

The prosecution must now respond to that motion. A hearing will later follow.

District Attorney George Gascon said a change of venue request is not common, but said he wants to make sure Mirkarimi gets a fair deal

"The first concern is that the defendant needs to have a fair trial and part of having a fair trial is to make sure we have a jury that is unbiased and if that's what it takes, then we'll do so," said Gascon.

ABC7's legal analyst Dean Johnson said the move is unusual especially in a misdemeanor case like this one.

"I think the chances of getting a change of venue are almost non-existent," said Johnson.

Mirkarimi faces three misdemeanor counts in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which prosecutors say he bruised his wife's arm - Ileana Lopez- during an argument. Jury selection was supposed to continue Monday, but it was put off because of a number of pending hearings and motions.

One of those happened in the afternoon. In court Judge Garrett Wong decided to allow the testimony of Christina Flores, a former Mirkarimi girlfriend, who filed a police report claiming she too was abused. The defense asked that her testimony not be allowed because Flores filed the report only after Mirkarimi was charged on Jan. 13.

Because the change of venue motion was going on Monday afternoon, the jury selection was put on hold. It will continue first thing Tuesday morning.


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