An Alameda County judge decided to downgrade the felony conviction of a lawyer who admitted hitting and killing a man with his car in Dublin in 2012, reducing the felony hit-and-run count to a misdemeanor.
Spencer Freeman Smith, who lived in San Ramon at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty last month to felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, and he was sentenced to one month in jail, 11 months of electronic monitoring and five years of probation.
However, Judge Michael Gaffey last Friday granted a defense request to reduce Smith's felony to a misdemeanor and allow him to serve his month in jail after undergoing electronic monitoring -- rather than serving his jail time first. The defense motion was granted against prosecutors' "strenuous objection," Alameda County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said.
Smith was arrested in May 2012 in connection with the hit-and-run death of Chinese national Bo Hu, 57, who was bicycling on Dougherty Road near Fall Creek Road in Dublin, a section of road that did not have bike lanes.
Smith didn't stop and drove back to his San Ramon home, where police later found his damaged black 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS55, according to authorities.
Smith, who is listed as a partner at the San Francisco-based employment law firm of Smith Patten, initially pleaded not guilty and tried to renegotiate a plea deal in 2013.
A litany of postponements, plea changes and other delays pushed the case back to Sept. 11, when Smith changed his plea to guilty and was formally sentenced on Sept. 25.
According to the California Bar's website, Smith was temporarily suspended from practicing law on April 15, but two days later that suspension was reversed. He is currently listed as an actively practicing lawyer.