San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi made a brief appearance in court Friday morning to face domestic violence charges and will return this afternoon when a trial judge will conduct pre-trial hearings.
Mirkarimi 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 bruised the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument in which his 2-year-old son Theo was present.
Although Mirkarimi was scheduled to return to court Friday afternoon, when Judge Garrett L. Wong was scheduled to conduct the hearings, actual trial proceedings will not begin until next week.
Wong will have to consider a motion filed by Mirkarimi's attorney Lidia Stiglich Wednesday in which she argued that statements Lopez made to neighbors Ivory Madison and Callie Williams in the days after the New Year's Eve incident should not be admissible in court.
A spokesman for the district attorney's office said that the defense motion was expected.
"We are not surprised or concerned with any of the motions filed by the defense," Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said. "We are confident the law supports us in this area and the video will be admitted into evidence.
"There is no doubt that without this video this case would be difficult to proceed on," Talai said.
Also Friday, prosecutors released still pictures from the video (above), which appear to show Lopez distraught and with a bruise on her arm.
Stiglich requested to not have the case sent to Judge Susan Breall, before whom Stiglich and Mirkarimi's former attorney, Bob Waggoner, have appeared for hearings in the case.
Last month, Breall denied a request by Mirkarimi to lift an order barring him from having any contact with Lopez and their son while the case proceeds.
Stiglich testified Friday morning that Breall would not be impartial and would be biased against her client.
Talai said the district attorney's office "would have been confident with whatever judge this (case) was placed in front of."
After the case was assigned in court to Wong, Stiglich and Mirkarimi made a swift departure from the corridor through a back exit in the Hall of Justice.
Although Stiglich declined to comment on the case,, a friend of Mirkarimi's, former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, spoke with reporters following the trial judge assignment.
Because of the restraining order that prevents Mirkarimi from returning to the Webster Street home that he shares with his wife and son, Mirkarimi has been staying with friends, including Agnos.
Mirkarimi met the former mayor while working on the campaign of former Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, who Mirkarimi succeeded in office.
"Well, I think every politician in the long run has some kind of bump in their career that ... either hurts them permanently or they get past it," Agnos said, emphasizing that Ross is innocent until proven guilty.
"There have been politicians throughout history that, like human beings, have hit rough spots. It's not all smooth. The question is, how do they handle it when they encounter it and what's the result," he said.
"In this case, I think that it's going to be a good result because he is innocent and he'll be able to go on with his career," he said.
Agnos said Mirkarimi stays in a guest bedroom at his home and has been paying Agnos to stay there because some people have called the free lodging an unauthorized gift.
Bay City News contributed to this report.