The trial of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, who faces a number of expenses of misconduct and perjury, started on Wednesday because the beleaguered sheriff made her manner into the courtroom.
In what would be the first public testimony concerning the costs, a civil grand jury charged Smith with 5 counts. She is accused of awarding hid carry licenses to marketing campaign donors, buddies and different members of her internal circle. She can be accused of accepting tickets to a San Jose Sharks sport and did not report the items. Smith has denied all claims.
If discovered responsible of any of the 5 expenses, Smith might be faraway from workplace and barred from holding public workplace sooner or later. Even when she avoids a conviction, the sheriff’s tenure will finish this coming January. Smith opted to not run for reelection within the wake of the grand jury’s accusations, leaving the race open for a runoff between former Palo Alto Police Chief Robert “Bob” Jonsen and retired captain for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Workplace Kevin Jensen.
“I’m grateful to these offering their civil service so justice could prevail,” mentioned Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee, referring to the grand jury. “Whatever the final result of this trial, in 2023, the County of Santa Clara could have a brand new sheriff and we can transfer ahead from the challenges dealing with us in recent times.”
Allen Ruby, Smith’s legal professional, mentioned it was “too quickly” to debate the case as he walked into court docket. Smith additionally declined to remark. In March she informed San José Highlight the grand jury’s expenses have been “specious at finest.”
“This case is basically about political retribution,” mentioned Wealthy Robinson, Smith’s former legal professional and a San José Highlight columnist who was lately subpoenaed to function a witness within the trial. “The sheriff has engaged in no legal exercise by any means.”
At a pretrial listening to Tuesday, Ruby requested presiding Choose Nancy Fineman to drop the costs towards his shopper, arguing they have been rendered moot by the Supreme Courtroom’s June determination to strike the authorized framework dictating how hid carry licenses are permitted.
San Francisco Assistant District Legal professional Gabriel Markoff, who’s prosecuting Smith on behalf of the state, mentioned the court docket’s ruling didn’t change the unlawful nature of Smith’s actions. Fineman in the end threw out one of many six preliminary expenses, which alleged that Smith did not “make an investigation and dedication of fine trigger,” however allowed the remaining 5 to proceed.
The trial punctuates months of scrutiny concerning the sheriff’s actions. The grand jury introduced its formal accusations towards Smith in December, following a months-long inquiry by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors into the sheriff’s administration of the county jail system.
A spate of accidents on the jail involving inmates residing with psychological well being points, together with the high-profile harm of Andrew Hogan, prompted the investigation. Hogan suffered important mind trauma in August 2018 after repeatedly slamming his head into the facet of a jail transport van.
The county settled with Hogan and his household for greater than $10 million final 12 months, and the board unanimously voted no confidence in Smith’s management.
The California legal professional basic has opened an unbiased investigation into Smith’s position within the jailhouse accidents, and the board of supervisors requested that the Truthful Political Practices Fee examine her.
Trial opening arguments are anticipated to start subsequent week.
Contact Brian Howey at [email protected] or @SteelandBallast on Twitter.