Santa Clara Co. Sheriff fires back at critics following jail brawl

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There's a war of words between the Santa Clara County Sheriff and the head of a Blue Ribbon Commission looking into conduct at her jails.

There's a war of words between the Santa Clara County Sheriff and the head of a Blue Ribbon Commission looking into conduct at her jails.

Sheriff Laurie Smith is firing back at retired judge LaDoris Cordell.

The Sheriff claims Cordell insinuated she allowed an inmate brawl to occur for political benefit.

RELATED: Newly installed cameras captures inmate brawl at Santa Clara County Jail

In the hours following the fight, Commissioner Cordell questioned if the jail staff should have known to keep certain groups of inmates apart.

The sheriff is incensed, saying her remarks are insulting if not illegal.

First came the cameras. Sheriff Laurie Smith bought them with her own money and had them installed Wednesday.

RELATED: Santa Clara Co. sheriff uses own money to buy cameras for embattled jail

On Thursday, the cameras captured this inmate fight.

Cordell, the chair of the Jail Reform Commission, has since commented in the media that the fight could have been avoided if those particular inmates hadn't been allowed to mingle.

Sheriff Smith took offense and fired off an angry letter.

"I think it just needs to be real clear that the information, the allegations she's making are not factual, it's a lie. It's dishonest," said Sheriff Smith.

Cordell declined to be interviewed saying she doesn't want to distract from the work of the commission.

But she did write a letter of her own.

It reads in part: "I was clear in my statement that was broadcast that if the officers knew that the inmates on 4A did not get along with one another, then it wouldn't make sense for them to be let out at the same time."

She goes on to write: "Sheriff, me thinks you doth protest too much."

The sheriff says Cordell is wrong.

"We cannot and we never would segregate based on race, ethnicity, anything. Not only would we not do that because it's not the right thing to do, but the U.S. Supreme Court says it's illegal for us to do that," explained Smith.

The sheriff is asking Cordell to disclose all of her emails and other documents that pertain to jail operations. Cordell is asking for an expert to review the fight.

RELATED: Judge rules 3 Santa Clara Co. guards to stand trial for murder in death of inmate
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newsjailfightsurveillance camerasurveillance videocaught on camerasheriffsanta clara countyinvestigationu.s. supreme courtlawsdiscriminationcivil rightspoliticsSan Jose
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