Following more than six months of separation, suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi was allowed Friday by a San Francisco Superior Court judge to reunite with his wife.
The protective order was issued in January when Mirkarimi was arrested in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he grabbed and bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.
But on Friday, Judge Garrett Wong agreed to terminate the protective order and sign off on a no-harassment order, which will allow the couple to live together. His order came in response to a request by Mirkarimi’s attorneys that the order be lifted in lieu of the suspended sheriff’s compliance with the terms of his probation.
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to undergo a year of domestic violence counseling. Days later, he was suspended without pay by Mayor Ed Lee.
Since April, Mirkarimi has attended 15 counseling sessions, all with good remarks, according to his attorneys. He also has fulfilled 60 hours of community service.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Aguilar-Tarchi posed several questions to Lopez before deferring to the court to ultimately make the decision on the protective order.
In response to a question from Aguilar-Tarchi asking if she wanted the order vacated, Lopez said yes.
As part of the order, Mirkarimi cannot harass, strike, threaten or assault Lopez, which is a non-order, Lopez’s attorney Paula Canny said, since by law people aren’t supposed to do that.
“It’s a victory,” Mirkarimi said while holding his wife’s hand after the hearing.
The suspended sheriff remembered that Jan. 13 was the last time he and his wife were able to hold hands.
“It’s beyond cruel and punishing,” he said. “We’re trying to cope.”
Lopez was elated with the judge’s decision, saying, “We’re stronger than ever before, that is a gift.”
Wong’s decision was appropriate to what he would do in any other domestic case, said Aguilar-Tarchi, the assistant district attorney.
Lopez will be heading back to her native Venezuela to tend to her father, who recently underwent surgery, as well as to rejoin their son.
When she returns to the U.S., the two plan to resume living together.
Lopez left for Venezuela in March, but returned to the U.S. to testify in support of her husband at hearings of The City’s Ethics Commission, where Mirkarimi is battling his suspension on official misconduct charges.
On Aug. 16, the commission will hear closing arguments from Mirkarimi’s attorneys and the City Attorney’s Office and is expected to make a decision on what to recommend to the Board of Supervisors, who will ultimately decide whether to oust the sheriff from office.
Mirkarimi also was ordered Friday to return to court on Sept. 28 for a probation progress report.