SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi no longer has a criminal record.
The San Francisco Chronicle (http://tinyurl.com/m8y3hl6) reported Monday that a judge granted his request to expunge his misdemeanor conviction for false imprisonment related to a domestic-violence incident with his wife. Removing a misdemeanor conviction from the record is a routine matter, and the San Francisco district attorney didn’t oppose the sheriff’s request.
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to one count of false imprisonment and agreed to undergo counseling after leaving a bruise on his wife’s arm during an argument on New Year’s Eve 2011, a few days before he was to be sworn in as sheriff. A video by a neighbor recorded his wife, Eliana Lopez, tearfully recounting the incident and turned the recording over to police. Lopez said she never meant for the recording to be given to police, and she didn’t cooperate with the investigation.
Lopez, a former Spanish-language soap opera star, is turning the incident into a one-person show called “What is the Scandal?” The show premiers in San Francisco next month.
Mirkarimi argues in court papers that his three years of probation expired in March and that he has stayed out of legal trouble the entire time. He argues that he “successfully complied with all terms and conditions” of his probation and that his criminal record should be expunged.
Such requests are routinely granted. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said he would not oppose the request because Mirkarimi shouldn’t be treated any differently than others in a similar situation.
“I can only speak in a general sense that it’s always something I’m grateful for, to be able to appear with people in court who are able to be afforded this kind of relief,” Mirkarimi’s attorney, Betsy Wolkin, said outside court after the hearing. “It’s really a cornerstone of restorative justice. It’s something that I believe in, the people in San Francisco believe in, the district attorney believes in and I think Sheriff Mirkarimi believes in. For him, it’s really personal. It’s the relief he’s entitled to.”
The incident was highly publicized and led to calls for Mirkarimi’s resignation. Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi from office and called for him to quit. Mirkarami went back on duty after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors fell one vote short of removing him from office. Mirkarimi is in the middle of a tough re-election campaign. He is being challenged by Vicki Hennessy, who served as interim sheriff during Mirkarimi’s suspension.
“It’s a positive step. But I think some will see this as an attempt by Ross to whitewash the record,” said San Francisco political consultant Jim Stearns, who ran Mirkarimi’s successful 2011 campaign but is not involved in the current race. “And honestly, it’s a technicality, because whether it’s on a piece of paper or not, everyone knows about what happened, and it’s not going to make a single bit of difference to his campaign.”
Neither Mirkarimi nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment.