Grand jury will not investigate Condit complaint

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

MODESTO, Calif. -- A grand jury has rejected a flight attendant's complaint that Rep. Gary Condit obstructed justice by allegedly asking her to sign an affidavit stating they didn't have an affair.

The Stanislaus County civil grand jury reached its secret decision Thursday night and mailed it to Anne Marie Smith's lawyer, James Robinson, who disclosed the letter's contents Monday.

Panel foreman Robert E. Johnson said in the letter that the jury voted to take no action because the complaint was filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

In her complaint, Smith claimed that Condit, his chief of staff, Mike Lynch, and Don Thornton, an investigator who worked for one of Condit's lawyers, conspired to obstruct justice by encouraging her to commit perjury.

Smith, 40, said she and Condit had a 10-month romance and that his intermediaries tried to get her to sign a false affidavit denying the affair.

Condit, D-Calif., has denied asking anybody to lie, and he disputes Smith's characterization of their association. His attorney, Abbe Lowell, said Smith and the congressman apparently have different definitions of the word "relationship."

Robinson took the unusual tactic of filing the complaint with the grand jury instead of letting the district attorney investigate and forward the case, if warranted, to the jury.

The strategy appeared to backfire; the civil grand jury is not authorized to indict crime suspects.

Prosecutors have said the complaint does not allege that any state law was broken, said Carol Shipley, assistant district attorney.

Robinson said in a written statement that there was no legal basis for the grand jury's decision.

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