Judge Refuses To Lift Stay-Away Order For Mirkarimi
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A judge on Thursday denied efforts by San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to modify or remove a stay-away order preventing him from contacting his wife or son in the wake of a domestic violence incident on New Year’s Eve.
When Mirkarimi was charged on Jan. 13 with misdemeanor violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness, he was also ordered by a judge to stay away from his wife, Eliana Lopez, and their 2-year-old son Theo.
The stay-away order was upheld on Jan. 19 by San Francisco Superior Court Susan Breall, who affirmed it again Thursday.
KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:
The order will remain in effect at least through the end of the trial, which starts Feb. 24, although Breall said that Mirkarimi can seek once again to have it modified in the city’s family court.
Mirkarimi’s defense attorney Lidia Stiglich argued against the stay-away order, saying Theo is at “a very delicate age” and that the order has left him “devastated at being separated from his father.”
She also said Mirkarimi has taken three counseling sessions since the allegations came to light and “takes all these allegations very seriously.”
The case stems from a Dec. 31 argument Lopez had with Mirkarimi during which he allegedly grabbed her arm and caused a bruise. Prosecutors said Lopez told neighbor Ivory Madison about the incident, and that Madison videotaped her conversation with her and later called police to report the incident.
In arguing to uphold the stay-away order, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Aguilar-Tarchi cited an October email between Lopez and Madison about a separate incident of possible neglect by Mirkarimi toward his son that Lopez wrote was “a nightmare” and left her “very worried about Theo.”
The Oct. 19 email from Lopez cited an instance where she had gone to Los Angeles for the day and that Mirkarimi looked after the child for two hours. She said Mirkarimi was “not feeding the child,” who was “vomiting” and was “being left in the car,” Aguilar Tarchi said.
Stiglich countered that a child protective services investigation into Theo’s well-being earlier this month found that any allegations of abuse or neglect were “unfounded” and that “the only negative effect they see is the separation of the child from his father.”
She also noted that Mirkarimi and Lopez were together for nearly two weeks after the New Year’s Eve incident and that there had been no other incidents.
But Breall eventually sided with the prosecutors to uphold the stay-away order, citing the court’s long-standing policy in similar cases.
“I know that Sheriff Mirkarimi wouldn’t want to have any special treatment just because you were sheriff,” she said, adding that she strongly suggested he petition to modify the order in family court.
Mirkarimi said outside of court following the meeting that he plans to do so.
He said he was “incredibly disappointed” at the judge’s decision.
“It’s enormously crushing, the fact that I haven’t been able to see my family, to be with my wife or be with my son,” said Mirkarimi, who called the ruling “just disproportionately cruel.”
Lopez also attended the hearing but did not speak to reporters as she left the courtroom.
Mirkarimi, who was just sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 8 after serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for seven years, is scheduled to return to court again on Feb. 22 for a pre-trial conference.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)