Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi left San Francisco Superior Court on the verge of tears this afternoon after learning that he was again denied the chance to see his young son pending another hearing about a stay-away order issued last month.
The order was issued when Mirkarimi was arrested and charged on Jan. 13 with misdemeanor domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in connection with an alleged incident on Dec. 31 involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, during which their 2-year-old son, Theo, was present, prosecutors said.
He had already tried twice unsuccessfully to have the stay-away order modified in criminal court and tried again in family court today. The order is preventing him from contacting Lopez or Theo until at least the end of the trial, which starts Feb. 24.
Judge Ronald Albers this afternoon denied a petition filed by Mirkarimi to be granted “reasonable” visitation with his son, but agreed to hold another hearing on the stay-away order on Wednesday, which is the next regular day such matters are heard in family court.
“If they tell him he’ll have to stand on one leg and Skype, he’ll do it,” Mirkarimi’s attorney Lidia Stiglich said outside the courthouse after the decision was handed down.
According to papers filed with the court today by Lopez’s attorney Deborah Wald, Lopez supported Mirkarimi’s request for visitation with Theo.
“There is a little boy right now who has no idea where his daddy is,” Wald said outside the courtroom after the hearing.
There was no verbal exchange between the parties during the hearing. Instead, each party individually submitted documents to the judge, who then returned a written decision.
When Lopez entered the courtroom, she approached her husband but was directed to the opposite side of the room by her attorney.
In supporting documents, Lopez wrote that Theo is “used to seeing his father every day.
Even when his father is on business trips, he and his father speak by telephone every day, and when they are apart for longer periods they have regular visits by Skype.”
“My son Theo is asking for his father every day. He waits for Ross on the stairs in the morning, hoping Ross will be there to take him to school; he runs to the window in the evenings looking for Ross,” Lopez said in the documents.
Lopez described significant changes in their son’s behavior, including frequent crying, changes that she says are harming her son and their family and served as a basis for her support of a modification to the restraining order.
Attorneys for Lopez requested that the media, which were in full force inside and outside the court, respect the family’s request for confidentiality and privacy.
The heavy media presence anticipated at today’s hearing prompted San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein on Thursday to issue a standing order prohibiting the use of cameras and other recording devices in the hallways on the fourth floor of the Civic Center Courthouse where family court hearings are held.
Mirkarimi was just sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 8 after serving for seven years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Patricia Decker, Bay City News