Civil grand jury accuses Sheriff Laurie Smith of corruption

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.

Related stories

Sept. 13, 2021 — County supervisors release reports criticizing Sheriff Smith’s operation of jail

Sept. 4, 2021 — Charges dropped against attorney Christopher Schumb in another blow to the DA’s investigation into Sheriff Smith

Sept. 1, 2021 — County Supervisors say they have “no confidence” in Smith; she says the Supes are partly to blame for problems in the jails

Aug. 19, 2021 — San Jose Mayor Liccardo says Smith should resign

Aug. 18, 2021 — Smith says she won’t resign, refutes allegations against her

Aug. 14, 2021 — Simitian wants report on abuse of county jail inmate released to public

June 10, 2021 — Judge throws out charge against Apple security chief in gun permits case

May 29, 2021 — D.A. Rosen disqualified from prosecuting defendant in donations-for-gun-permits case

Nov. 23, 2020 — Apple security chief indicted in guns-for-gun permits scandal

Nov. 20, 2020 — Undersheriff Rick Sung indicted in DA’s investigation of Sheriff Laurie Smith

Oct. 19, 2020 — Two more plead guilty in gun-permit case

Sept. 19, 2020 — DA wins first round in gun-permit case

Aug. 31, 2020 — One defendant in gun-permit case pleads guilty, another wants DA removed

Aug. 7, 2020 — Sheriff’s captain, 2 lawyers, businessman indicted by grand jury in alleged gun permit scheme

Aug. 7, 2020 — What does DA have on sheriff?

Aug. 16, 2019 — Opinion: Coincidence or just a case of tit-for-tat?



  1. Given her well-documented mismanagement of the jails, it’s time for Smith to go. She should announce now that she won’t seek a 7th term so candidates can jump into the race without having to worry about competing against the special interests that normally support her.

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