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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ross Mirkarimi Hearing: Eliana Lopez Talks About the Domestic Dispute With Her Husband

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 7:50 AM

click to enlarge Eliana Lopez - SUZANNE STATHATOS
  • Suzanne Stathatos
  • Eliana Lopez

Eliana Lopez's testimony was like watching a live taping of Telemundo; there were laughs, tears, boos, and applause as she testified, sometimes with a little sass, on her husband's behalf at City Hall last night. Lopez, a well-known Venezuelan soap opera star, smirked, smiled, rolled her eyes, and engaged in witty banter at the hearing.

In the end, Lopez was resolute in her loyalty toward her husband, Ross Mirkarimi, who is fighting to keep his job as the county sheriff after he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment of his wife.

"We are a family," she said regarding obtaining the consent from Mirkarimi needed to remain in Venezuela. "All the decisions, ever that we apart, we make all the decisions together."

However, Deputy City Attorney Peter Keith, who's representing Mayor Ed

Lee in this fight, peppered Lopez with questions, hoping to

prove that "Ms. Lopez has a thriving life in Venezuela now, and that

she's going to want to be careful about upsetting that by doing

something that would be countering the interests of the sheriff."

Lopez insisted her extended trip to Venezuela was merely a financial necessity to support her family. In April, Mayor Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay from his post as sheriff.
 
"That was one of the reasons that I moved to Venezuela, is so I

can have my own home and to live in Venezuela and to have maybe a better

life."

"And Ms. Lopez, you've never considered divorcing your husband," Keith asked.
 
"No."

"Ever?"

"No, really serious, no?"
 
Another minute went by before Keith asked her again: "Is it your testimony that you've never considered divorcing your husband?"

An "objection" arose.
 
"Have you seriously considered divorcing your husband?" Keith asked once more.
 
The Ethics Commission stopped him here.
 
Mirkarimi's

wife clarified that she looked for information regarding custody about

what her rights would be in a divorce case. She then shifted the conversation back to family, including the couple's 3-year-old son, Theo, and collaboration.
 
Keith then asked about the balance of power between the couple. As

one of Lee's legal advisers, he tried to get Lopez to admit that her

husband's power stemmed from his position as a former city supervisor and now sheriff.
 
"You are concerned that your husband is a powerful man who is powerful enough to take Theo away from you?" Keith asked.


"I

think that after all the research I've been doing, I think that he

being an American and me being not American, being an immigrant, he is

in a better position than me," Lopez responded. Lopez, a Venezuelan citizen, received a U.S.

Green Card in January.
 
Lopez then detailed a 40-minute conversation that she had in March 2011, from

which she personally concluded that her husband was "a powerful man" due to

his American citizenship, not because of his status as an elected

official.
 
When Keith asked Lopez about what happened on the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2011,  Lopez added some Venezuelan sass to her testimony. Her top three feisty

remarks, in not particular order:

  • "I said, 'I'm not going to cook. We'll have to go out for lunch.'"

  • "I was not trying [to be polite]. I was just saying what I wanted," she said about visiting Venezuela with Theo.

  • Regarding Mirkarimi raising his voice in the car: "His voice is so

    strong and big and so he just doesn't have to do much, and so

    immediately you feel like, Okay, [Lopez then throws the talk-to-the-hand gesture]."

 
Prior

to Lopez's testimony, Attorney Sherri Kariser worked to bash Linnette

Haynes, Mirkarimi's campaign manager. Mayor Ed Lee alleges that Haynes

tried to dissuade witnesses, specifically Ivory Madison, the neighbor who reported the alleged domestic violence, after learning about the Lopez's video in which she was seen crying and pointing to the bruise Mirkarimi gave her.

Lee's legal counsel took this as an opportunity to sift through the 45

calls and texts messages sent back-and forth among Haynes, Lopez, and Mirkarimi on Jan. 4.

Haynes reported that Madison's acts were "fishy," and that she [Haynes] was

merely trying to provide emotional support to Mirkarimi's family.
 
Mirkarimi

supporters and opponents filled the seats in City Hall, both in room

416, where the hearing occurred, and in the North Light courtroom,

where the hearing streamed live. Proponents held signs, and wore stickers,

and buttons reading, "Stand with Ross." Opponents wore shirts and held

up signs that said "Enough."

Lopez previously vowed to testify only if the

city would foot the bill for her plane ticket from Venezuela, which offer the city politely declined.



The Ethics Commission will decide whether Mirkairmi, who was elected sheriff in November, is guilty of official misconduct after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment, stemming from a domestic dispute with his wife on New Year's Eve. During the argument, Mirkarimi grabbed Lopez, which is how she got that bruise on her arm. The Commission must make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which will have the final say over his job.

Lopez is scheduled to take the stand again tonight at City Hall.

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Suzanne Stathatos

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