News


Judge considers tougher sentence for ex-local attorney who killed Dublin cyclist

'Mr. Smith has been given enormous opportunities and he hasn't complied with them,' judge says to defense's release request

A judge said Thursday that he will consider imposing a tougher sentence for an attorney and former San Ramon resident who killed a bicyclist in a hit-and-run collision in Dublin in 2012 if he concludes that the attorney misled him at sentencing hearings last year.

Spencer Freeman Smith, 36, pleaded no contest to felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing 57-year-old Bo Hu on Dougherty and Fall Creek roads in Dublin on May 15, 2012, and was back in court Thursday morning.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Michael Gaffey said of Smith, "If he's found to have intentionally misled the court, then there could be greater consequences than those that already have been imposed and there could be a different penalty."

Smith's attorney, Rebecca Feigelson, said, "I don't think that will happen," saying she doesn't think that Smith misled the court, but Gaffey told her, "You're not the judge."

Thursday's hearing was on the issue of whether Smith misled Gaffey at two sentencing hearings last fall by asking to delay serving his jail term because his wife's health was precarious.

But Gaffey postponed the matter until June 10 after Feigelson said Smith's wife can't come to court because her pregnancy is "high-risk" and she's not supposed to travel until after she gives birth, which is scheduled to happen on April 22.

Smith practiced law in San Francisco and lived in San Ramon at the time of the fatal crash that killed Hu. He and his family now live in Santa Ana in Orange County.

After Smith entered his plea, Gaffey could have sentenced him to up to three years and four months in state prison, but at a hearing last Sept. 25 he chose not to send him to prison and instead placed him on five years' felony probation, including one year in the county jail that he could serve at home via electronic monitoring after serving 30 days in jail.

At a hearing two weeks later on Oct. 12, Gaffey reduced Smith's felony hit-and-run conviction to a misdemeanor and reduced his sentence to three years' misdemeanor probation.

At both sentencing hearings, Smith asked to delay serving his jail time because his wife was in delicate health because of her pregnancy and needed bed rest and Gaffey ultimately granted Smith's request.

But prosecutor Matt Gaidos said Smith and his wife then traveled to Dubai for a vacation one week after the Oct. 12 hearing and failed to notify his probation officer, even though he wasn't supposed to travel outside of California.

Gaffey said, "There seem to be some inconsistencies" between what Smith said and his actions afterward.

At a hearing two weeks ago, Gaffey placed Smith back on five years' felony probation and ordered him to serve a year in the county jail after finding that Smith failed to live up to the terms of his probation and his plea agreement with the court by testing positive for cocaine on Oct. 29 after he returned from the trip to Dubai.

Smith was placed in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in January after he failed to appear in court for a hearing in his case.

Feigelson asked Gaffey Thursday to allow Smith to be placed back on an electronic monitoring program or at least be allowed to serve the rest of his jail term at a facility in Santa Ana so he can be close to his wife and children, but Gaffey denied both requests.

Gaffey said, "The answer is no. Mr. Smith has been given enormous opportunities and he hasn't complied with them. The court is not prepared to give him what he wants because he wants it."

The fatal collision reportedly occurred after Smith had been out drinking with a paralegal from his law firm.

Hu was a Chinese tourist who was in the country for his fiancee's relative's graduation and Smith's case has received widespread attention in China.

Smith was arrested two days after the fatal collision when Dublin police identified him as the owner of a recently purchased black 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 connected with the collision.

Dublin police said Smith's car sustained extensive windshield and front-end damage and was missing parts that were recovered at the scene of the collision.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Truth
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

Let's hope he is dis-barred as well and is never given the opportunity to practice law again. He took an oath as an attorney to live with morals....obviously he has none.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 28, 2016 at 1:28 pm

I believe another article noted he has been disbarred


4 people like this
Posted by Not so
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 28, 2016 at 3:11 pm

That decision was reversed and he is still practicing law in southern CA. He is apparently above the law since he was not allowed to leave the state and yet left the country for vacation.


5 people like this
Posted by no user name
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 28, 2016 at 3:26 pm

no user name is a registered user.

This judge needs to be removed but that will never happen. He was appointed by Gov Arnie in 2005, elected by running unopposed in 2012 and is up for re-election in 2018. In the meantime anyone who cares about this extremely lenient sentence should write to the Alameda County Superior Court Presiding Judge -- that is Judge Jon Rolefson at 1221 Oak St, Oakland CA 94612.


8 people like this
Posted by PW Reader
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Not So: I'm not sure where you got your information that he is still practicing law. The California State Bar shows he is on an "interim suspension after conviction" and is ineligible to practice law. Per the State Bar, the definition of INTERIM SUSPENSION FOLLOWING CRIMINAL CONVICTION:
"An attorney who has been convicted of a crime which involves or probably involves moral turpitude or is a felony may be temporarily suspended from the practice of law pending the finality of his/her conviction and a determination regarding the degree of attorney discipline that should be imposed as a result of that conviction."

See his info on the State Bar page: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Not so
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 1, 2016 at 9:04 am

I believe it was part of his plea bargain & that he plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than a felony. He maintains that he did not know he hit a human, rather an animal so no reason to stop, and therefor that removes his "moral reason to stop" He is employed at a law firm in southern California.


Like this comment
Posted by Not so
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 1, 2016 at 9:19 am

Here is the article for my source:
Web Link

As of the date of the article on October 9th, 2015 it says:
"Smith, who is still licensed to practice law, was arrested a day after the accident when police found his damaged 2012 Mercedes CLS550 in his garage in San Ramon, 3 miles north of the crash site."


2 people like this
Posted by not licensed
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2016 at 11:54 am

The state bar page which shows that currently, i.e. as of today, he is not licensed to practice law is more reliable than the SFgate article.

Effective Date Status Change
Present Not Eligible To Practice Law

Not so - you can relax - he is not legally practicing law anywhere.


Like this comment
Posted by Not so
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 2, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Well that is good! At least we all know he isn't practicing while in jail and has lost his license permanently!


1 person likes this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 5, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Cocaine and vacations in dubai.
Death penalty


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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