Attorney Evelyn Pentikis believes that regardless of whether the Sheriff’s wife is willing to testify against him, Mirkarimi’s case should be heard in court.
According to The Washington Post, the Progressive, Green Party-member Sheriff allegedly got in a fight with his wife, Eliana Lopez, a really bad one where they both were really mad. Words were exchanged and maybe an arm was grabbed. Some time passed, they made up. But, what she may have forgotten to mention was that she told a neighbor a whole lot of bad things about him when she was really mad, things that maybe she wishes she hadn’t said… and she asked the neighbor to videotape her bruised arm. Oh, how she wishes she could make it all go away. Because she now says that really loves him and she knows that he really loves her. We’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that they really are in love.
Mirkarimi’s nightmare is even more dramatic that the charges of Domestic Violence were brought against him two weeks after he was sworn in as Sheriff of San Francisco. Proponents of Mirkarimi are citing conspiracy theories and making lists of everyone that has some vendetta against him, maybe even the neighbor. He is, after all, a tough guy, a graduate of the San Francisco Police Academy (and Class President) and a former D.A. Investigator. Because we aren’t privy to the details of the investigation we don’t know the evidence that the prosecution has, but we do know that there was enough there to actually charge him with the crime.
And we do know, which I’m sure, Mirkarimi knew, there is no such thing as a liberal California law when it comes to domestic violence. The simplest definition of which is found under the CA Penal Code (273.5 PC) which punishes the crime of inflicting bodily injury on your spouse; anyone you’ve lived with or live with; or the mother or father of your child.
At some point in the mid 90s, California went Terminator and adopted a mandatory no-drop prosecution policy on all domestic violence cases. What this means is the prosecution will not drop a domestic violence case due to a victim’s nonparticipation. To understand this you have to get that the prosecution is not working for the victim but for the State (technically the people of the state) and the no-drop policy is as much a protection of the victim as well as an issue of public safety. You see, advocates of the policy say (among other things) that the victim can’t see things clearly and needs the prosecution’s help to protect them. Critics say it’s not the government’s business—it’s private—and if the victim retracts, then the government should go away. Now remember, the law doesn’t distinguish gender so the same law applies to men and women.
I appreciate both positions, but at the end of the day, I lean towards the prosecution’s right to prosecute the case. Why? Because, I used to work for a Criminal Judge and I know first hand that frivolous cases usually are promptly dismissed, especially by an expense-conscious D.A’s office. There must be something evidential to move forward with a case.
Could Sheriff Mirkarimi have been influenced by his career accolades resulting in a little power tripping on his wife? It’s possible, right? Does this mean he should be prosecuted even if his wife has forgiven him? Yes. Because clearly at the time, she felt compelled to seek confidence in her neighbor- and we all know that when you start talking about your fights with other people, you’re most likely looking for some kind of help because it’s that bad. Could it all have been a big mistake, could she have embellished, or over-dramatized? Maybe, but why not flesh it out and let a Judge or Jury decide?
Of course, the damage is already done to Sheriff Mirkarimi’s reputation. If he is found innocent of the charges of domestic violence, and this does happen to be a case of a take-down by powerful San Franciscans who don’t want a Progressive Sheriff (who is for the legalization of marijuana), then a man’s livelihood is at stake because of an alleged altercation his wife didn’t even want to make public.
If he is found guilty and his wife is, in fact, fearful to speak out, then his reputation should be damaged and his position as Sheriff (someone who will uphold the law and abide by it) should be questioned. And that is why this case should be before a judge or jury, so the facts can be excavated and the truth revealed.
What do you think of California’s ‘no drop’ policy in the prosecution of domestic violence cases? Does it protect male victims of domestic violence. Or does it interfere with the right to privacy in deciding themselves whether or not to press charges over what they later may see as a mere bad argument gone ugly?
Photos of Mirkarimi’s wife’s bruises can be seen on The San Francisco Chronicle website.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu