The former sheriff of Santa Clara County, Laurie Smith, speaks into microphones at a press conference after the VTA mass shooting on May 26, 2021.
Former Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is pictured in this file photo. Smith recently failed to appeal rulings related to a civil corruption case.

The California Supreme Court won’t hear former Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith’s appeal of a case that disqualified her from holding public office.

The high court denied Smith’s petition for review on June 18, records show. It comes after jurors in a 2022 civil trial found Smith guilty of six corruption and willful misconduct charges, determining her office engaged in a pay-to-play scheme when granting gun permits to friends and political donors. Smith appealed the case, and argued that by retiring prior to being found guilty the removal proceedings that barred her from her job and jury service were no longer necessary.

State judges disagreed, instead sustaining the verdict that ended her 50-year law enforcement career.

The Sheriff’s deputy union said it has moved on from Smith’s time on the job.

“We are focused on addressing our dire staffing shortage, improving 911 response times and reducing crime in our communities and have no interest in looking into the rearview mirror at the former sheriffs’ troubled tenure and latest legal drama,” Deputy Sheriff’s Association President Marcus Barbour told San Jose Spotlight.

Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

Toward the end of Smith’s term as sheriff, there was increased scrutiny over her office’s management of the county jail system. Her successor Bob Jonsen started his job early, since the office lacked a permanent leader.

A series of injuries of mentally ill jail inmates in recent years led to a county investigation of Smith and other department leaders. In previous interviews with San José Spotlight, Smith blamed the county for warehousing mentally ill people in the jails instead of building a psychiatric hospital, and for her department’s budget woes.

In one heavily publicized incident in 2018, inmate Andrew Hogan suffered head injuries after he repeatedly slammed his head into the sides of a holding cage while being transferred between county facilities. The county settled with Hogan’s family for $10 million.

Smith is also being sued by a sheriff’s office employee who claims the former sheriff created a retaliatory and hostile work environment for workers who participated in the corruption investigation.

Lara McCabe, who was a management analyst under Smith, alleged in her lawsuit that Smith repeatedly “intimidated, harassed and threatened” her and that county officials did nothing to stop it — despite multiple attempts by McCabe to seek help.

McCabe didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Contact Brandon Pho at [email protected] or @brandonphooo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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