Judge refuses to lift Mirkarimi's stay-away order

January 27, 2012 5:32:42 AM PST
San Francisco's embattled sheriff Ross Mirkarimi returned to court Thursday afternoon, trying to convince a judge to let him see his wife and child.

A protective order has been in place for weeks because of a domestic violence investigation involving Mirkarimi. And, Mirkarimi has been ordered by a judge to keep 100 yards away from his wife Eliana Lopez and their 2-year-old son Theo during the duration of the upcoming trial. On Thursday, Mirkarimi and his new attorney Lidia Stiglich went to court to try and change that.

Stiglich asked Judge Susan Breall to change her ruling to a no-harassment order which would allow Mirkarimi to see his wife but not harass her. She also asked the judge to allow him to be reunited with his son whom he has not see for nearly two weeks. "Ross Mirkarimi is devastated at being separated from his son and his son is devastated at being separated from his father," She told the judge.

The prosecution objected, saying they still felt for the safety of the 2-year-old.

At one point, Prosecutor Liz Aguilar Tarchi produced an old email that Lopez had sent Ivory Madison, the neighbor who reported the abuse which reportedly happened New Years eve. Lopez sent the email in October while she was in Los Angeles, saying she was worried about Theo because her husband had left him in the car as he was vomiting, with his diapers wet."

After the two-hour hearing, the judge declined to change her mind, saying she had no authority to modify the protective order. Breall said Mirkarimi should have petitioned the family court for supervised visits because her court is not the proper venue. Afterwards, the sheriff said he was terribly disappointed. "This has been enormously crushing, the fact that I haven't been able to see my family, be with my wife or be with my son," he said. "This is disproportionately cruel and I will continue to committ to fight this."

Mirkarimi's wife also went to the Thursday's hearing although she left without saying a word. She has previously said she wants her family reunited. Supporters of the sheriff who gathered outside the Hall of Justice agree. "It does seem like the whole thing's gotten blown out of proportion," supporter Michael Tong said. "I'm kind of wondering, if it wasn't a supervisor who became a citywide sheriff, would this have gotten the same kind of notoriety?"

One critic came to shout at the newly-elected sheriff to resign. "I don't see how we can take all this time to deal with his legal troubles and run the sheriff's office. If he can, he's a miracle man and I don't believe he's a miracle man at all," he told ABC7.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says he is reviewing the charter to determine what steps to take in terms of the sheriff's future, but indicated as mayor, he is not likely to do anything until after the trial. "If you review the charter, these processes involve the ethics commission and the board of supervisors. That's what I'm under review with the city attorney about," he said. "And, it will take time for me to do that and I may have to await the conclusion of the trial itself."

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that investigators have subpoenaed pictures that the newspaper ran back in May of the Mirkarimi family. That is about the same time he announced he was running for sheriff.

The trial is scheduled to start on February 24.