Ross Mirkarimi May Have Scuttled Own Plea Deal with Comments to Press

Categories: Crime
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Here we go again
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón raised the possibility that his office might back out of a plea deal in the domestic-violence case against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi today, citing indications from Mirkarimi and his friends that the sheriff does not believe he is actually guilty of the misdemeanor false-imprisonment charge he agreed to accept Monday.

In an interview with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle, Gascón said he is troubled by signs that have emerged in the past week that Mirkarimi struck the deal in bad faith, citing in particular a Chronicle column, published yesterday, that quoted Mirkarimi stating his six-figure legal tab was a "considerable factor" in his decision to cop a guilty plea, rather than any actual feeling of culpability.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, which has functioned as the de facto print propaganda arm of Mirkarimi's defense team, has likewise run two stories this week asserting that Mirkarimi "didn't want to cop a plea" and "maintains his innocence."

Those articles have come back very quickly to haunt Mirkarimi, who has been enduring a storm of criticism and bad press since he was originally charged with misdemeanor counts of domestic violence, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness.

That's because, as Gascón made clear in his comments to the Chron's editorial board, prosecutors are barred by their professional code of ethics from knowingly accepting a guilty plea from a defendant who does not actually believe in his guilt. The DA said his office will bring up his concerns to a judge at Mirkarimi's sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Monday.

"We're going to address this on Monday because we're not in the custom, not in the habit, of taking a guilty plea from somebody who is not guilty," Gascón said. "If the defendant in this case believes he is not guilty, then we should go to trial and let a jury decide."

Gascón told the Chronicle, "Either he was lying to the court when he said that he was guilty or he's lying now. There's really no two ways to look at it."

Mirkarimi was originally charged in connection with an incident in which he allegedly bruised his wife's arm during a fight. Before he entered a guilty plea Monday, prosecutors had introduced into evidence a video of his wife, Eliana Lopez, displaying the bruise and tearfully describing the altercation. A second alleged victim, ex-girlfriend Christina Flores, also came forward to say she had been abused by Mirkarimi.

At the case's outset, Mirkarimi got into hot water for calling the incident that led to the domestic-violence investigation "a private matter, a family matter." Now it appears the sheriff's mouth might have got him into serious trouble, again.

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My Voice Nation Help

Ross should have kept his mouth SHUT. I run 52 wk court ordered dv groups. All participants have accepted plea bargains. Participants who insist on asserting innocence is grounds for discharge from the group. A report is then sent to the Probation Officer who notifies the court. Why should Ross be any different?

Ron G
Ron G

Everyone concerned with this case deserves exactly what they are getting, even the wife who hired her own immigration attorney. Hilarious, and shows how pathetic California politics are.

David Wilton
David Wilton

Sad reality is that district attorneys accept guilty pleas all the time from people they know are not guilty of what they are pleading to. DAs strong arm defendants into pleas to stuff they didn't do all the time by overcharging, obstruction, and bad faith negotiation. It's routine.

Patrick Connors
Patrick Connors

Nice! It's not the DA that has a boner for making the Sheriff pay - "He doesn't appear to feel guilty enough!" - it's the Sheriff that should exhibit the proper amount of deference to the former police chief and long time opponent and current DA. 

No political scheming here, eh? 

Maybe Gascon wants to make sure his department doesn't look like it caved. If they had a strong enough case why did they ever agree to a deal in the first place? Isn't it HIS job to know whether or not these deals are worthy? 


Right, because domestic violence only occurs in CA.

David Wilton
David Wilton

The DA is stuck with this. He decided to go forward on a case with real problems and now he doesn't know what to do when Mirkarimi seeks to mitigate the damage. DAs always expect defendants to roll over and take it in the ass. They just aren't used to situations where the balance of power is a little less tilted their way.

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