Ross Mirkarimi Needs Bigger Jury Pool

Trial will likely not begin this week as planned.

Tuesday, Mar 6, 2012  |  Updated 1:21 PM PDT
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Ross Mirkarimi Needs Bigger Jury Pool

AP

Eliana Lopez and Ross Mirkarimi leave San Francisco City Hall

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A judge today ordered 100 more prospective jurors to the pool for  the domestic violence trial for San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, which  is on hold while prosecutors and defense attorneys spar over various motions  and evidence in the case.

    Mirkarimi, 50, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of  domestic violence battery, child endangerment and dissuading a witness in  connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he allegedly grabbed and bruised  the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument.     Lopez has denied the allegations against her husband. However,  prosecutors are seeking to include in evidence a 55-second video recorded by  the couple's neighbor Ivory Madison that reportedly shows Lopez crying and  pointing to the bruise while recounting the incident.
    The fate of that video, which prosecutors have said is the crux of  their case against Mirkarimi, lies in the hands of a three-judge panel in San  Francisco Superior Court's appellate division after Lopez's attorneys last  week appealed its use in the trial.
    Lopez's attorney Paula Canny argued that the video should be  disallowed because of attorney-client privilege, saying that Madison  advertised herself as being "trained as an attorney," but unbeknownst to  Lopez, had never passed the bar exam.
    Prosecutors have until Wednesday to respond to the appeal.  However, on Monday prosecutors filed a request asking the appellate division  for an expedited briefing schedule on the issue or to stay the trial  proceedings until the matter is resolved.
    Mirkarimi's attorney Lidia Stiglich has also filed a separate  motion regarding the video, arguing that it should not be admissible because  if Lopez does not testify in the trial, there is no way for Stiglich to  cross-examine the alleged testimony from the video.
    Separately, Stiglich also on Monday filed a motion to have the  trial moved to a different county.
    "People have formed strong opinions (about the case), and formed  them in many different directions," Stiglich said outside of court today.
    She said questionnaires filled out by prospective jurors have  shown "almost all the jurors have some sort of awareness" about the case.
    As a result, of 300 jurors called so far for the trial, roughly  200 have been dismissed, either because of conflicts, perceived biases or  hardships preventing them from serving.
    One of those jurors dismissed today was Supervisor Eric Mar, who  served with Mirkarimi on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before  Mirkarimi was elected sheriff in November.
    Judge Garrett Wong, who is overseeing the trial, today ordered 100  new jurors to come to court Wednesday to fill out questionnaires.
    Wong will also hold a hearing Friday on whether prosecutors will  be allowed to include in the trial expert evidence from Nancy Lemon, a  lecturer at University of California at Berkeley's School of Law.
    With all of those motions and hearings still up in the air, and  jury selection still far from over, Stiglich said she did not expect opening  statements in the trial to take place soon.
    "Openings aren't going to happen for a while," she said.

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