Jury selection begins in corruption trial of Santa Clara County Sheriff

Smith has opted not to seek re-election after her term ends.
Smith has opted not to seek re-election after her term ends. Photo credit Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – The highly anticipated corruption trial of Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith kicked off this week with jury selection.

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The embattled Smith faces six allegations of misconduct, five of which are related to public corruption and the issuance of concealed carry permits, according to Bay Area criminal defense lawyer Paula Canny.

Those charges are related to a scam being conducted in her office by two commanders, who exchanged concealed carry permits for political donations.

She is also facing a sixth accusation that alleges she willfully withheld information.

In the past, the sheriff was accused of mismanaging the county jail and is currently also being investigated by California Attorney General about the inappropriate management of the jails.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has been calling for Smith's resignation since August of last year, to no avail, until Smith announced her intention in March to retire in January next year.

Smith has alleged that this case against her is the result of a vendetta her political opponents have against her.

If found guilty on any count, she would be removed from office and would be barred from seeking public office again.

With the unusual circumstances of the case, the trial is likely to be eventful, even chaotic.

"I am predicting that the process will be messy," said Canny. "I'm describing that the process already has been messy."

Smith was formally charged by a civil grand jury in December of last year, during which she denied the charges of corruption and misconduct levied against her.

The first female sheriff elected in California, Smith has been serving as sheriff since 1998, winning re-election five times.

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