April 9th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Eliana Lopez, wife of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, has gone public with her charge that the domestic violence allegations against her husband constitute a kind of coup d’etat. She made the charge in an op-ed column for the San Francisco Chronicle which apparently is only available in the print edition, but which is summarized here (SF Gate, 4/6/12).
The domestic violence case against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was akin to a coup and was intended to bring him down, his wife said in an op-ed published Friday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Eliana Lopez, a Venezuelan actress and Mirkarimi’s wife, said her 20 years in that country have taught her much about politics.
“I know how the media can create and influence public opinion to justify political actions…,” she wrote. “I am shocked to witness the same formula being applied to my husband. In Spanish it is Golpe de Estado (coup d’etat), and that is what is happening to Ross.”
In what has been a bizarre case from the beginning, the original charges against Mirkarimi were dropped in exchange for his pleading guilty to a charge that was never brought against him – false imprisonment. As I’ve reported before, the case bears the earmarks of almost everything that’s wrong about how we deal with domestic violence. And that trend continues despite Mirkarimi’s plea.
In the first place, assuming that Mirkarimi did anything at all to his wife – which she has alternately claimed and denied – it was almost totally non-injurious to her. Put simply, if she’d suffered the same “injury” while gardening, she wouldn’t have paused for an instant.
But Lopez made the mistake of confiding in a neighbor who just happened to be a domestic violence extremist. Despite promising to keep the matter confidential, the neighbor, Madison Ivory, went straight to the police. As I reported in my first piece on l’Affaire Mirkarimi, Ivory’s mindset can be seen in an incident that occurred while she was in law school. There she tried to have another student kicked out of school for sexual harrassment. His crime? He’d written a law review article in which, among other things, he’d referred to an article in Playboy Magazine.
It’s no surprise that a person who thinks that such an article constitutes sexual harrassment would jump at the opportunity to make life hell for the Sheriff of San Francisco. That’s just what Ivory did, and with great success.
The ensuing media circus combined with the inevitable legal one were front-page news for weeks in the Bay Area. But it wasn’t just the extreme triviality of the injury done to Lopez or her naive belief that she should have some say in whether her husband was prosecuted that require mention. Soon it was being reported that a panel of 200 prospective jurors were being interviewed, but that proved insufficient. About the time a second panel of 200 had been hauled down to court, Mirkarimi knuckled under and took the deal – a guilty plea to a single misdemeanor.
Up to then, the matter showcased our domestic violence system at its worst. The injury in no way merited any form of police response and the “victim” desired none, but that’s what she got, like it or not. In due course, a restraining order was issued against Mirkarimi, keeping him out of his little son’s life. Had he harmed his child? No, but still the boy could have no contact with his father. The absurd expenditure of public money and time came next, with countless media liaisons, attorneys, judges, court personnel and those 400 prospective jurors, all being thrown at a case that warranted nothing more than an admonition to Mirkarimi and Lopez to work out their differences.
The word “guilty” was barely out of Mirkarimi’s mouth when San Francisco’s mayor began pondering whether to leave the man in the office to which voters had elected him. We were told in apparent seriousness that, because sheriffs arrest and imprison people, Mirkarimi couldn’t serve in office because he’d pleaded guilty to “false imprisonment.” You see, according to the theory, “the people” can’t be certain of his ability to properly imprison those convicted of crimes because he’d pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of “false imprisonment.”
For all the non-attorneys reading this, any form of restraint of liberty of one person by another constitutes the minor crime and tort of “false imprisonment.” If you say to your child “you stay in your room until it’s clean,” you may have been guilty of what Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to.
From minor DV incident to minor plea bargain to the loss of one’s job to which the people of the county elected you is just a short step. And that’s what Eliana Lopez is complaining about. It’s what she calls a golpe de estado, and she’s dead right.
In fact, it’s the point I’ve made several times in other cases. It seems that whenever an elected official is even accused of domestic violence, radical feminists in the domestic violence industry immediately call for his resignation from office. They’re quite consistent in their antipathy for, not only due process of law, but our democracy. Many in the DV establishment frankly don’t want the voters to decide whom they want to represent them.
And so it is in the Mirkarimi case. Yes the people elected him, and yes many elected officials have minor misdemeanors on their records. But because Mirkarimi’s case has to do with domestic violence, the self-appointed arbiters of proper behavior have decided that the people of the county should not be able to vote him into or out of office the next time he’s up for election.
In her op-ed, Lopez characterized the dispute between the couple that led to the charges as a “very emotional misunderstanding” about possible custody issues that came up while the couple was struggling with its relationship. Mirkarimi and Lopez have a young son.
She said she has never feared for her safety or the safety of her son in Mirkarimi’s presence.
“What I do fear is the mischaracterization of the events as a basis to remove my husband from elected office,” she wrote.
That’s exactly what’s happening. It’s happened before. And Lopez is spot-on when she excoriates the DV industry for its assault on democracy.
The Mirkarimi case is a highly visible one. As such, it has the potential to teach a lot about how we deal with domestic violence and all that’s dysfunctional about the DV system. Will we learn the lessons that are so obvious or will we continue in thrall to the many false teachings of the domestic violence industry?