UPDATE, NOV. 2: San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Nancy Fineman ruled Wednesday afternoon that the corruption trial of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith will continue, despite Smith's resignation from office on Monday, Oct. 31. Her lawyer had sought a dismissal of the case because it was moot – she could no longer be removed from office. Jury deliberations continued.
The jury was in deliberations when Smith announced Oct. 31 that she didn’t want to wait for a verdict that could have forced her removal from office, announcing Monday she was resigning immediately.
“This letter is to notify you of my retirement effective immediately, Monday, October 31, 2022,” Smith wrote.
The San Mateo County jury today was continuing deliberations begun last Friday in the three-week civil corruption trial of the six-term sheriff on charges of jail mismanagement and a "pay-to-play" scheme involving gun permits issued by her office.
Undersheriff Ken Binder takes over today as acting sheriff, Smith’s office said in a brief press release.
If the jury returns a guilty verdict, it would have forced her removal from office before her term ends in January. The lawyer for the sheriff moved to have the case thrown out late Monday afternoon, while the jury still works to reach a verdict.
Earlier this year, Smith announced she wouldn't run for re-election and would retire at the end of her term in January. She had resisted calls for her resignation last year by local officials, including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
In a statement today, Liccardo said, "More than a year ago, I publicly called for Sheriff Laurie Smith to resign, and she has belatedly heeded that call. It remains for the County to rebuild a troubled department and to better address many long-neglected issues, particularly regarding jail oversight. The City of San José stands ready to help.”
In a letter to the community in March, Smith called criticism of her tenure "specious attempts by unsavory political opponents in retribution for serving the public with honor."
The misconduct allegations against Smith by a Santa Clara County civil grand jury include doling out concealed carry licenses to campaign donors, and of accepting San Jose Sharks tickets and not reporting them as gifts.
On Nov. 8, county voters will choose between retired sheriff’s captain Kevin Jensen and retired Palo Alto police chief and former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s captain Robert Jonsen as the new sheriff.