Crowded guest list for hearing; 18 witnesses may have to testify about Mirkarimi 

click to enlarge Ross Mirkarimi's trial could call on as many as 18 witnesses to testify. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Ross Mirkarimi's trial could call on as many as 18 witnesses to testify.

City attorneys seeking to permanently remove Ross Mirkarimi as sheriff submitted a proposed witness list Tuesday for an upcoming Ethics Commission hearing that includes his campaign manager, whom they accuse of trying to thwart the Police Department’s domestic violence probe of the sheriff.

In its filing, the City Attorney’s Office named 18 witnesses it may call to present evidence before the commission in its bid to oust the suspended sheriff on behalf of Mayor Ed Lee, who suspended Mirkarimi for official misconduct after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment of his wife, Eliana Lopez.

The witnesses — some of whom the attorneys said have not cooperated with The City’s investigation into the New Year’s Eve incident and events in the days that followed — include Mirkarimi and Lopez, their neighbors who spoke with police about the incident, Lee, police inspectors, Sheriff’s Department officials, former Sheriff Michael Hennessey, and campaign manager Linnette Peralta Haynes.

Under the City Charter, both the City Attorney’s Office and the Ethics Commission can issue subpoenas to compel testimony, similar to in a criminal trial, although the commission hearing is an administrative proceeding. A final decision on removing Mirkarimi from office will be made by the Board of Supervisors.

There has been no indication that any potential witnesses might refuse to appear before the commission, although Lopez — who is said to not have cooperated with police and investigators — remains in her native Venezuela until at least June.

City attorneys said they want to question Haynes about her Jan. 4 communications with Mirkarimi’s neighbor Ivory Madison, whom Lopez had confided in, about allegedly similarly intended conversations with Lopez and also about communications with Mirkarimi. Attorneys claim Haynes’ efforts “were intended to deter” Madison from reporting Mirkarimi’s conduct to police. They wrote that Haynes was not cooperating with their investigation.

Haynes, the city attorneys said, interceded after Lopez called her on her cellphone after the suspended sheriff’s wife learned that Madison had gone to police. Lopez handed the phone to Madison, the filing alleged, and Haynes then “attempted to dissuade Ms. Madison from cooperating with the police and attempted to persuade Ms. Madison to lie to the police.”

The City had been seeking a court order forcing Haynes to comply with a subpoena of four months of her phone records and other information, but a judge Tuesday advised them to narrow their requests, calling it a “fishing expedition.” The parties were asked to work out a compromise.

Haynes’ attorney Eric Safire said after the hearing that his client had never spoken with or attempted to dissuade Madison, and that she was ready to cooperate with a narrower subpoena and would agree to testify before the Ethics Commission.

The next hearing before the commission is scheduled for May 29.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

Potential Witnesses

  • Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi
  • Eliana Lopez, Mirkarimi’s wife
  • Ivory Madison, neighbor who reported incident to police
  • Abraham Mertens, Madison’s husband
  • Linnette Peralta Haynes, Mirkarimi’s campaign manager
  • Callie Williams, another neighbor who spoke with Lopez
  • Mayor Ed Lee
  • Former San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey
  • Acting Sheriff Vicki Hennessy
  • Retired Undersheriff Jan Dempsey
  • Christina Flores, former Mirkarimi girlfriend
  • Adult Probation Department Chief Wendy Still
  • Mayor’s Director of Public Safety Paul Henderson
  • Sheriff’s Capt. Kathy Gorwood
  • SFPD Lt. Michele Jean
  • SFPD inspectors Becker, Daniele and Keane (first names not provided)

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Ari Burack

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