Sheriff pleads guilty after court OKS video showing
SAN FRANCISCO | San Francisco’s sheriff pleaded guilty Monday to false imprisonment, thus avoiding a domestic violence trial that could have cost him his job and ending the public airing of a personal drama worthy of the Venezuela telenovela that his wife once starred in.
Ross Mirkarimi, 50, accepted the plea deal Sunday night, after an appeals court said an emotional video of his 36-year-old wife displaying a bruised bicep could be shown to the jury. The deal also appears to have defused a politically charged atmosphere that included a support group for domestic violence victims erecting a downtown billboard taking exception to Sheriff Mirkarimi’s claim that the incident was a “private matter.”
The plea on a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in San Francisco Superior Court derailed a trial that promised to tag the sheriff with allegations of abusive behavior and infidelity.
Political commentators and legal analysts said the plea bargain was a reasonable end to an only-in-san Francisco political drama.
“He cut a good deal, and he did get a break,” said Peter Keane, a Golden Gate University law professor and a politically connected former chief assistant public defender in San Francisco. “But it was well within reason for the prosecutor to also make this deal.”
Mr. Keane cited Sheriff Mirkarimi’s lack of a criminal history and the single bruise as among the reasons prosecutors sought to make the deal.
The judge extended Monday’s deadline for prosecutors to respond until April 16. Prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The challenges, including one filed electronically Sunday night, said the purported attacks aren’t hate crimes but internal church disciplinary matters not involving bias against the Amish.
The motion to dismiss the indictment said the hate-crimes law is vague and overly broad and includes actions, like the ones in the Amish case, “that were not intended to be covered as ‘hate crimes.’ ”
“The actions alleged in this case are not alleged to be the result of antiAmish bias,” the motion said.
Samuel Mullet Sr. and 11 followers are charged in five beard- and haircutting attacks on other Amish last year. They have pleaded not guilty.
A feud over church discipline allegedly led to attacks in which the beards and hair of men and hair of women were cut, which is considered deeply offensive in Amish culture.