By the Daily Post staff
The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury filed court papers yesterday (Dec. 14) accusing Sheriff Laurie Smith of “willful and corrupt misconduct in office” over allegations that her department traded gun permits for campaign donations.
The allegations aren’t criminal charges, so they can’t result in Smith being locked up in her own jail. Instead, they’re civil allegations, but she must answer for them in court and could face removal from office if the accusations are upheld at trial.
Civil vs. criminal grand jury
The civil grand jury, a panel of residents empowered by the courts, typically issues reports about improving government operations. It’s different from a criminal grand jury, which a district attorney would use to bring criminal charges against a defendant.
Investigating an elected official is a different and rarely-used role for the civil grand jury, though it is allowed by law.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who has been investigating Smith for more than two years, hasn’t brought any charges against her. Instead, he’s filed criminal charges against 10 people in her inner circle. But two of those cases — those of attorney Chris Schumb and Apple security chief Thomas Moyer — have been thrown out of court.
The civil grand jury filed court papers listing seven counts accusing her of:
• Trading concealed carry weapons permits, or CCWs, for campaign donations;
• Unfairly rejecting gun permits for non-VIPs;
• Failing to provide non-VIPs timely notice of the status of their gun permit applications;
• Accepting gifts in excess of $500, including tickets to a Sharks suite from a gun permit application;
• Failing to report the gift of the Sharks tickets;
• Perjury for omitting that gift from her Form 700, a document in which an office-holder must list certain financial information;
• Failing to cooperate with the investigation into injuries suffered by prisoner Andrew Hogan during a prisoner transfer.
Smith must appear in court on Jan. 12 to answer the allegations.
District Attorney Rosen has bowed out of the case and San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin will represent the civil grand jury.
Ironically, Boudin is facing a recall in San Francisco on June 7 over allegations that he’s been soft on crime.
Smith, 69, has been sheriff since 1998. She hasn’t said whether she will seek re-election for a seventh term next year.
Link to document: The accusation filed by the civil grand jury against Smith in Santa Clara County Superior Court.