By Ronnie Cohen
SAN FRANCISCO | Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:33pm EDT
(Reuters) - A city ethics panel was set to open hearings on Tuesday on the question of whether embattled San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, suspended after his conviction in a spousal-abuse case, should permanently lose his job.
Mayor Ed Lee placed Mirkarimi on leave without pay and initiated misconduct proceedings to remove him from office in March, a day after the city's top elected lawman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully restraining his wife.
Mirkarimi, who was sentenced to a day in jail and three years of probation, has filed suit seeking reinstatement to his post and his salary. He claims he cannot be removed for official misconduct because the offense in question occurred more than a week before he took office as sheriff.
The case against Mirkarimi, 50, grew out of a New Year's Eve quarrel with his wife, Venezuelan soap opera actress Eliana Lopez, that the couple carried on in front of their young son, Theo, over her plans to take the boy to her home country.