Domestic violence case raises Mirkarimi reinstatement questions


Mirkarimi says there's a chain of command within his department that will prevent any conflict of interest. But San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says the domestic violence case currently making its way through the justice system is an example of the issues that could surface.

A trial date was set Thursday for Vincent Calvarese. He's charged with three misdemeanor counts of domestic violence. He's also a lieutenant in the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.

"This is the type of case that we foresaw, along with domestic violence cases in general, but this one is closer to home in terms of it involving a top level official in the sheriff's department," Mayor Lee said. He calls the Calvarese case a "perfect example" of why he wants reinstated Sheriff Mirkarimi to recuse himself from domestic violence cases. Mirkarimi is on three years' probation after admitting he bruised his wife's arm. Now one of his deputy sheriff's faces accusations of assault.

Calvarese is charged with attacking his ex. The 48-year-old is currently on administrative duty within the sheriff's department. But his boss believes he can wall off any contact, "I have an undersheriff or I have an assistant sheriff, I would make sure oversees the particular approach in disciplinary hearing and how we proceed, that would never intersect with me," Mirkarimi said.

But district attorney George Gascon wants a new law that would officially draw a line. At a news conference earlier this week, he too pointed to the Calvarese case and Sheriff Mirkarimi, "He cannot, with a straight face, lead a rehabilitative process" Gascon said. "He cannot, with a straight face, discipline people internally or externally."

Mirkarimi fired back, saying, "The projection by those who don't understand how the sheriff's department works is a little bit of grandstanding."

As for Lt. Calvarese, he has pleaded not guilty. His trial date is set for January. And though Mirkarimi has tried to initiate contact, he and Mayor Lee have not met face to face since the sheriff was reinstated last month.

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