- - Monday, March 12, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s sheriff pleaded guilty Monday to false imprisonment, thus avoiding a domestic violence trial that could have cost him his job and ending the public airing of a personal drama worthy of the Venezuela telenovela that his wife once starred in.

Ross Mirkarimi, 50, accepted the plea deal Sunday night, after an appeals court said an emotional video of his 36-year-old wife displaying a bruised bicep could be shown to the jury. The deal also appears to have defused a politically charged atmosphere that included a support group for domestic violence victims erecting a downtown billboard taking exception to Sheriff Mirkarimi’s claim that the incident was a “private matter.”

The plea on a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment in San Francisco Superior Court derailed a trial that promised to tag the sheriff with allegations of abusive behavior and infidelity.

Political commentators and legal analysts said the plea bargain was a reasonable end to an only-in-San Francisco political drama.

“He cut a good deal, and he did get a break,” said Peter Keane, a Golden Gate University law professor and a politically connected former chief assistant public defender in San Francisco. “But it was well within reason for the prosecutor to also make this deal.”

Mr. Keane cited Sheriff Mirkarimi’s lack of a criminal history and the single bruise as among the reasons prosecutors sought to make the deal.


Plastic OK’d for part of wooden boardwalk

NEW YORK — A New York City commission has approved a plan to replace part of Coney Island’s wooden boardwalk with a combination of plastic and concrete.

The city’s Public Design Commission met Monday to discuss the proposal from the city Parks Department. Its approval was the last step needed to go forward with the plan.

More than three dozen people spoke against the plan to make over stretches of the aging, 2.7-mile Brooklyn boardwalk. They carried signs that said “Boardwalk, not sidewalk.”

The city stopped using long-lasting lumber from tropical species of trees in 2008 to help preserve rain forests. Officials have had trouble finding a reliable supply of more environmentally friendly hardwood.

City officials have said the plastic composite lasts longer than wood and is cheaper. The boardwalk has drawn visitors since 1923.


Amish defendants mount hate-crimes law challenge

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