MODESTO, Calif. – A county grand jury reached a decision on whether to investigate allegations that Rep. Gary Condit obstructed justice when he asked flight attendant Anne Marie Smith to sign an affidavit stating they didn't have an affair.
The results of the secret vote of Stanislaus County's 19-member civil grand jury Thursday night won't be made public except by way of a letter being sent Friday to Smith's lawyer, said Marnie Ardis, the county employee who oversees the grand jury.
The unusual session came after Smith's lawyer, James Robinson, held a news conference on the courthouse steps last week to announce he was going directly to the grand jury with allegations that Condit, his chief of staff, Mike Lynch; and Don Thornton, an investigator for a California lawyer who has represented Condit, obstructed justice by encouraging Smith to commit perjury.
Smith, 40, claims Condit and his intermediaries tried to get her to sign a false affidavit denying they had an affair. She said they had a 10-month romance.
Condit, D-Calif., has denied asking anybody to lie. His attorney, Abbe Lowell, said Smith and the congressman apparently have different definitions of the word "relationship."
The panel could decide whether to investigate or reject Smith's citizen's complaint. But Ardis said the civil grand jury -- convened to oversee local government -- cannot indict anyone and that criminal charges like the ones alleged by Smith must eventually be filed by the prosecutor anyway.
The county's district attorney, Jim Brazelton, has said he's unlikely to bring any charges.
Citizen requests for criminal charges are usually made directly to police or prosecutors, who can present evidence to criminal grand juries. Robinson said he went to the civil grand jury to bypass Brazelton.
"The whole purpose of this is to go around the D.A. because we don't trust the D.A.," Robinson said Thursday.
Smith's relationship with Condit became public after the congressman was linked to Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old government intern from Modesto who vanished in Washington on May 1.
Condit, 53, is not considered a suspect in her disappearance, but police sources say he acknowledged having an extramarital affair with Levy.