(Bay City News) After more than six months of separation, suspended San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi had his restraining order lifted this morning in San Francisco Superior Court to allow him to reunite with his wife.
The protective order was issued when Mirkarimi was arrested in January in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he grabbed the arm of his wife, Eliana Lopez, during an argument and caused a bruise.
Mirkarimi's attorneys today made a request that the court terminate the protective order in lieu of the suspended sheriff's compliance with the terms of his probation.
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge and was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to undergo a year of domestic violence counseling. Days later, he was suspended without pay by Mayor Ed Lee.
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.
Judge Garrett Wong agreed to terminate the protective order and sign off on a no harassment order, which will allow the couple to live together.
As part of the order, Mirkarimi cannot harass, strike, threaten or assault Lopez, which is a non-order, Lopez's attorney Paula Canny said, since by law people aren't supposed to do that.
"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 today to return to court on Sept. 28 for a probation progress report.