City Attorney Dennis Herrera today denied Ross Mirkarimi's request for the city to finance his defense attorneys during the Ethics Commission proceedings, which are looking into whether the suspended sheriff committed official misconduct.
Of course, this is not the first time Mirkarimi and Herrera have publicly presented clashing interpretations of the City Charter (see "moral turpitude," "official misconduct," and the mayor's authority to suspend a sheriff).
In his letter to Herrera, Mirkarimi cites section 6.102, which concludes:
[If it is determined that] the City Attorney has a conflict of interest regarding a particular matter, the elected officer, department head, board or commission shall be entitled to retain outside counsel for legal advice regarding the particular matter, and the City Attorney shall thereupon cease to advise the elected officer, department head board or commission on such matter. Any such finding of a conflict of interest shall not affect the City Attorney's role as legal adviser to the elected officer, department head, board or commission on all other matters.
Mirkarimi explains that "the actions of your office thus far in these proceedings demonstrate that neither you nor anyone in your office could ethically represent me. Without cataloguing every action you have taken, suffice it to say that you chose to represent the mayor in derogation of your equally compelling legal duty to represent me."
But representing the mayor or representing Mirkarimi are not equally compelling duties, replied Herrera, who jabs that Mirkarimi's argument "indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the official misconduct proceedings." The City Attorney's Office is representing the mayor's actions on behalf of the city, he asserts.
"This proceeding is not a private dispute between the mayor and the sheriff," he writes, citing a recent Superior Court decision that stated:
The City Attorney is representing the mayor in his official capacity with respect to actions he took on behalf of the City in accordance with a provision of the Charter authorizing the Mayor to take such actions.
Mirkarimi faces official misconduct charges stemming from a Dec. 31, 2011, domestic dispute in which he bruised his wife's arm. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment in March.