San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife are the targets of a defamation lawsuit filed Thursday by their neighbors who played a central role in the domestic violence case that nearly led to the sheriff’s removal from office last year.
Ivory Madison and her husband Abraham Mertens filed the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday, saying that Mirkarimi and his wife Eliana Lopez falsely accused them of various crimes and unethical acts.
The lawsuit states, “Those accusations included, among others, conspiracy, practicing law without a license, submitting false statements to police, and perjury.”
Lopez confided in Madison about a Dec. 31, 2011, incident in which Mirkarimi grabbed her arm during an argument, causing a bruise. Madison recorded a video of Lopez recounting the incident and then reported it to police days later.
Despite Lopez’s refusal to testify against her husband, the video was the central piece of evidence in a criminal case that ensued against Mirkarimi, who eventually pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge and was sentenced to three years’ probation and other penalties.
Mirkarimi’s conviction led Mayor Ed Lee to suspend him on official misconduct charges, but after a lengthy administrative hearing, he was reinstated in October after the city’s Board of Supervisors fell two votes shy of the number required by the city charter to remove him from office.
The lawsuit filed Thursday by Madison and Mertens states that last January, Lopez said the couple was “part of a political conspiracy, were seeking financial gain by cooperating with police, and were lying to police.”
The lawsuit states that Mirkarimi and Lopez “continued to make similar allegations for months thereafter.”
The couple seeks a “retraction of all false and defamatory statements” as well as monetary damages and an injunction against further defamation, according to the lawsuit.
Mertens, a licensed lawyer, submitted the lawsuit on the couple’s behalf.
One of the criticisms of Madison made by Lopez in the months after the incident was that Madison allegedly claimed to be an attorney and that their discussions were protected under attorney-client privilege.
However, while Madison graduated from law school, she never passed the bar exam and was not licensed to practice law.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News