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Prosecuting the Sheriff

Well, this is awkward.  Rachel Gordon and John Coté report in the SF Chron:

As San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi fights three criminal charges stemming from accusations that he physically abused his wife, he also is battling for his political future.

District Attorney George Gascón on Friday charged Mirkarimi with domestic violence battery of his wife, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with an incident that prosecutors believe happened on New Year's Eve.

"No one is above the law," Gascón said. "Whether this was the elected sheriff or any other San Francisco resident, this type of behavior is inexcusable, criminal and will be prosecuted."

Terry Collins reports for AP: "Gascon said the basis for the child endangerment charge was that the couple's son saw the alleged incident occur. Gascon declined to explain the allegation that Mirkarimi influenced a witness."

That allegation needs to be explained.  The battery apparently resulted in only a bruise, and Mirkarimi's wife says the charges are "completely wrong."  But who is the witness and what is the dissuading?  A cover-up after the fact, deliberate and not in the heat of the moment, could be more serious than the original transgression, as so often happens in politics.


Typically in a dv the 136.1 relates to the victim, although here there's a neighbor who is apparently the reporting party, so might be its her. My question is, why is, why would Gascon want to handle this? Doesn't he have to work with the Sheriff? Why not palm it off on the AG? Whatever happens, its going to smell like politics.

Because of San Francisco's weird hybrid of being a city and a county, the sheriff's office actually does very little "police work" in the sense that we normally think of it. The sheriff's office runs the jails, transports prisoners and is responsible for security in courthouses. As a result, there actually is far less interaction between high level people in the DA's office and high level people in the sheriff's office than in most counties. The DA's office really doesn't work with the sheriff all that often. Also, the AG's office might not want it for largely the same reason that you think Gascon wouldn't want it. Remember, CA's AG is Kamala Harris who is SF's former DA. Most of her political supporters and fundraisers are still involved in SF politics and there is no doubt that she has her eyes on further political life after she is either termed out or voted out as AG. So she doesn't want to get involved in this mess anymore than Gascon would.

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