SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - Suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi embraced and kissed his wife, Eliana Lopez, in a San Francisco courtroom Friday morning - the first time he has been able to do so since a protective order was put in place as a result of the New Year's holiday domestic dispute case between the two.
A judge had imposed the protective order in January. That order was lifted mid-morning Friday, and a modified one was put in place - prohibiting Mirkarimi from assaulting, threatening or harassing her - something his attorneys were quick to point out nobody is allowed to do.
The order is required, nonetheless, because Mirkarimi entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor false imprisonment charges in March.
In spite of the modified order, Lopez indicated she planned to return to her native Venezuela to be with her sick father and the young son she shares with Mirkarimi. It was not clear whether Mirkarimi would accompany her back to Venezuela.
KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:
Since April, Mirkarimi has attended 15 counseling sessions, all with good remarks, according to his attorneys. He has also fulfilled 60 hours of community service.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Aguilar-Tarchi posed a number of questions to Lopez before deferring to the court to ultimately make the decision on the protective order.
Lopez, in response to Aguilar-Tarchi asking if she wanted the order vacated, said yes.
Earlier this week, Lopez testified at San Francisco's Ethics Commission hearing regarding her husband's future. Specifically, the commission is trying to determine whether he should permanently be removed from office. Mayor Ed Lee suspended him in march, following his misdemeanor conviction.
"It's a victory," Mirkarimi said while holding his wife's hand after the hearing.
The suspended sheriff remembered 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 went through a major surgery, as well as to rejoin her son.
When she returns to the U.S., the two plan to resume living together.
Lopez had left for Venezuela in March, but returned to the U.S. to testify in support of her husband on Wednesday and Thursday 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 was also ordered to return to court on Sept. 28 for a probation progress report.
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