Judge Dismisses Defamation Case Against Ross Mirkarimi

Friday, Mar 15, 2013  |  Updated 6:26 PM PDT
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Judge Dismisses Defamation Case Against Ross Mirkarimi

Ross Mirkarimi did not immediately respond to ruling.

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A defamation lawsuit filed against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and his wife by their neighbors was dismissed Friday, according to court records.

Ivory Madison and her husband Abraham Mertens filed the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court in January, arguing that Mirkarimi and Eliana Lopez falsely accused them of various crimes and misconduct during the sheriff's domestic violence case last year that nearly led to his removal from office.

Court records show a judge dismissed the defamation case Friday without prejudice. Mertens, a licensed lawyer, submitted the lawsuit on the couple's behalf, writing that Lopez said they were "part of a political conspiracy, were seeking financial gain by cooperating with police, and were lying to police."

The lawsuit stated that the accusations included "conspiracy, practicing law without a license, submitting false statements to police, and perjury." Lopez had 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.

Lopez refused to testify against her husband, but the video was used as the central piece of evidence in a criminal case that ensued against Mirkarimi, who eventually pleaded guilty in March 2012 to misdemeanor false imprisonment and was sentenced to three years' probation.

The conviction led to Mirkarimi's suspension by the mayor on official misconduct charges and a lengthy administrative hearing that ended in October when the city's Board of Supervisors fell two votes shy of the number required by the city charter to remove him from office.

Mertens and Madison were not immediately available for comment on the judge's decision today.

Mirkarimi was also not immediately available for comment, but attorney Shepard Kopp, who represented the sheriff in the City Hall administrative hearing but did not represent him in the defamation suit, said he was not surprised the case was dismissed.

"I did predict when it was filed that it would be dismissed," Kopp said. "I didn't think it would happen this quickly but I'm glad that it did."

Paula Canny, who represents Lopez, said she was also happy about the decision to dismiss the case.

"I'm very relieved and hope that everybody can move forward in the spirit of compassion," Canny said. "I hope everyone heals from this difficult situation."

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