San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's ethics hearing begins on whether to oust him

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is seen in Superior Court in San Francisco. Mirkarimi has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment in a domestic violence case. Mirkarimi entered the plea Monday, March 12, 2012 in a San Francisco courtroom. He was fined $590 and sentenced to three years of probation and a year of counseling. He will also be required to take parenting classes.
File,AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Ross Mirkarimi
File, AP Photo/Eric Risberg
(CBS/AP) SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Ethics Commission opened its inquiry Tuesday into Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's fitness for office after his conviction on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi without pay in March and is seeking his permanent ousting after the sheriff pleaded guilty to bruising his wife's arm during an argument.

This is the first time the 19-year-old ethics commission has convened a trial-like hearing to determine whether an elected official should be removed from office. It will forward its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which needs the votes of nine of 11 members to remove Mirkarimi. The mayor and his lawyers are asking for a removal recommendation.

Mirkarimi was sworn as sheriff in January after winning election in November. He previously served seven years on the Board of Supervisors.

Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, reportedly got into an argument on Dec. 31 over whether she could travel to her native Venezuela with their three-year-old son, Theo.

Mirkarimi admitted bruising her arm with an overly firm grip. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false imprisonment in exchange for the dropping of three other misdemeanor charges. He was sentenced to probation and counseling.

The five-member commission on Tuesday put off deciding several key issues, such as the admissibility of a tape showing Mirkarimi's wife tearfully displaying a bruised biceptape, until further arguments are made. The hearing is to reconvene on June 28 and could feature the live testimony of Mirkarimi. The mayor is also expected to testify live at some point as well.

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