Ross Mirkarimi Shocks Legal Scholars With Claim That Abuse Allegations Are “a Family Matter”

Ross Mirkarimi is innocent.

Of course he is — he is innocent until proven guilty. It remains to be seen if District Attorney George Gascón will even  charge the sheriff with domestic abuse following a police report filed by Mirkarimi's neighbor.

Regardless, the language Mirkarimi has used to describe the situation has deeply troubled legal scholars with an expertise in the state's domestic violence laws. For a top city law enforcement official to describe abuse allegations in which a police report has been filed and an investigation is under way as “a private matter, a family matter” — as Mirkarimi did — is both legally incorrect and sends the disturbing message that accusations of domestic violence are to be kept behind closed doors.

In fact, Nancy K.D. Lemon, a lecturer at U.C. Berkeley's Domestic Violence Law Seminar, notes that one of the questions on her recent final exam was “Give some examples of how we are moving away from seeing domestic violence as a private, family matter.”

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