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Judge Refuses to Allow Mirkarimi to Contact Wife, Son

SF sheriff says not being able to see his family has been "enormously crushing"

Updated Jan. 26, 2011, 5:46 p.m.

A judge on Thursday refused to lift an order barring San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from having any contact with his wife and 2-year-old son.

The stay-away order remains in effect until the conclusion of Mirkarimi's domestic abuse trial, which is set to begin Feb. 24.

Mirkarimi's new attorney, Lidia Stiglich, tried to convince Judge Susan Breall to let Mirkarimi see his son during supervised visits, but Breall refused. Breall reminded Mirkarimi that he could file a petition in family court to request such visits.

The judge, however, commended Mirkarimi for attending three counseling sesions. Stiglich said her client will continue to receive therapy, which she cited as evidence the sheriff is taking the charges against him "very seriously."

Breall said it was not the practice of the court to lift stay-away orders in cases like this. "I know Sheriff Mirkarimi would not want to have special treatment just because he’s the sheriff.”

After the hearing, Mirkarimi told reporters, "It's been enormously crushing that I haven't been able to be with my family, with my wife, with my son. It's been disproportionately cruel."

Thursday's hearing marked the first time Stiglich appeared on Mirkarimi's behalf. Mirkarimi hired her on Wednesday to replace his previous lawyer, Robert Waggener.

Unlike at last week's hearing, when Breall issued the stay-away order, Mirkarimi's wife, Eliana Lopez, did not address the court and did not speak to reporters after Thursday's hearing.

Lopez's attorney, Cheryl Wallace, tried to get the judge to exclude all communications between Lopez and her neighbor, Ivory Madison. On Jan. 1, Madison recored a video of Lopez discussing a Dec. 31 argument she had with Mirkarimi and showing a bruise she claimed resulted from the dispute. The two also exchanged e-mails and text messages about the incident.

Wallace claimed that the tape was not acceptable as evidence because the discussion between Lopez and Madison, a law school graduate, was protected under "attorney-client privilege."

Breall rejected that argument because she did not know whether Madison was, in fact, acting as Lopez's attorney when those discussions took place.

In an email to reporters Tuesday, Lou Gordon, a friend of Lopez's, said Lopez planned to appear in support of Mirkarimi at a rally scheduled before Thursday's hearing, but that rally was cancelled at the last minute at Siglich's request, according to another support, Raquel Fox.

As Mirkarimi entered the courtroom Thursday, he passed by Michael Petrelis, who was holding a sign that read "Resign, Ross. Resign."

Petrelis said that Mirkarimi cannot juggle his legal troubles while also making sure the Sherrifs Office functions smoothly.

"If he can, he's a miracle man," he said. "I believe he should resign for the good of the city."

On Tuesday, after meeting with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Mirkarimi told reporters he would not step down, but would not take pay during his trial next month.

Christine Falvey, Lee's spokeswoman, said Thursday that the mayor is "reviewing the city charter and considering what his options are" regarding Mirkarimi's position.

"He wants to make sure the office of the sheriff is functioning. He did ask the sheriff to consider taking a leave while defending himself against these charges."

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