Judge Rejects Sheriff Smith’s Pleas for Dismissal, as She Denies All Charges

The case of “The People of California v Laurie Smith” is headed to trial.

No date has been set, but the Santa Clara County sheriff, who said in March she won’t seek re-election to a seventh term, will stand trial this year on misconduct charges.

A conviction on the civil grand jury complaints won’t land Smith in her own jail, but could result in her early departure from office.

The corruption trial is not a criminal case, but follows a similar structure as a criminal proceeding.

The case against the sheriff will proceed because San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Nancy Fineman, in a ruling filed Thursday, rejected Smith’s requests that misconduct charges be dismissed.

At a Tuesday arraignment via Zoom, Los Gatos attorney Allen Ruby made an unsuccessful case for dismissal, and the sheriff, in a brief statement, denied all charges against her.

Because of potential conflicts, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, represented by Brian Bringardner and Gabriel Markoff, is handling the case, which also is the reason it will be tried in San Mateo County.

In overruling Smith’s objections, Fineman affirmed that an accusation for “willful or corrupt misconduct in office” can be issued.

Citing previous California court cases, Fineman wrote, “Misconduct in office is broad enough to include any malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office. “It is not necessary that the misconduct be a crime in order for the misconduct to be the basis of an accusation.”

She also rejected Smith’s claim that the accusation that the sheriff handed out permits to carry weapons only to VIPs was “ambiguous. “The accusation alleges that the defendant had a policy of only providing certain categories of people with a permit,” Fineman wrote, saying this is sufficient to make the allegation of Smith’s “abuse of discretion.”

Smith’s lawyer also argued that Smith is accountable for abuses in the system of gun permits. Fineman said this argument ignores a 1976 case Court of Appeals ruling that stated “It is the duty of the sheriff to make such an investigation and determination, on an individual basis, on every application [for a permit].”

In Thursday’s ruling, Fineman also rejected Smith’s claim that her due process rights had been violated, and stated that she had a duty to cooperate with investigations of her office.

Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. This political “Witch Hunt” is front / center and meant to deflect the public to not focus on the real crook…. San Jose Mayor Stinky Sam Liccardo…

    Why has no Grand Jury gone after ole “Ricky” Liccardo for his LIST of dirty deeds??

    Sam smelt it…. He dealt it… But her sure likes to point the finger… Oh… and or blame Microsoft….hahahahaha…. Dog ate my Homework…. Or his new one to blame it all on the Sheriff…. Hahahaha….

    Our District Attorney ole “Frozen” Rosen did not push that same outcome for his BFF Sam… Free pass for the “All Boys” club…. Go Bells…

    I don’t recall Sheriff Smith violating a California Supreme Court ruling like it didn’t matter.

    Sam plays ball with the system and does whatever the political bosses want him to do (Bought and Paid for)….Sheriff Laurie Smith does not….

    San Jose Spotlight and First Amendment Coalition
    City of San Jose and Mayor Samuel Theodore Liccardo

    Case# 22CV394443

    Don’t drink the Kool-Aid folks….

  2. She blatantly sells her coveted CCW permits to the wealthy and privileged.

    Liccardo being a criminal is a separate issue.

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