Ex-local attorney who killed cyclist given felony probation after failing drug test

Jail time in play for lawyer convicted of 2012 fatal crash in Dublin

An attorney and former San Ramon resident who killed a bicyclist in a hit-and-run collision in Dublin in 2012 could face up to a year in county jail after a judge Thursday placed him back on felony probation, saying the attorney failed to live up to the terms of his probation and an agreement with the court by testing positive for cocaine.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Michael Gaffey said he tried to give 36-year-old Spencer Freeman Smith "an opportunity" last Oct. 12 by reducing his felony hit-and-run conviction to a misdemeanor for striking and killing 57-year-old Bo Hu on Dougherty and Fall Creek roads in Dublin on May 15, 2012.

In addition, Gaffey agreed in October to reduce the sentence for Smith, who also had pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, from five years of felony probation to three years of misdemeanor probation.

Gaffey said Thursday, "This was a plea bargain between the court and Mr. Smith and he has not abided by it."

The judge on Thursday ordered Smith, who lived in San Ramon at the time and practiced law in San Francisco, to serve a year in the county jail as a result of the change back to felony probation.

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.

Gaffey could have sentenced Smith 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 the felony probation. He then reduced the sentence to misdemeanor probation at the Oct. 12 hearing.

However, according to court records, Smith tested positive for cocaine on Oct. 29 after he returned from a trip to Dubai with his pregnant wife.

He was arrested on Jan. 27 and was placed in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin after he failed to appear for a previous hearing for his probation violation.

Smith's attorney, Rebecca Feigelson, said Thursday that Smith only had "trace amounts" of cocaine in his system and argued that his sentence shouldn't be changed.

Feigelson said Smith has no prior criminal record and "it could be a complete accident" that Smith collided with Hu after a night of drinking and left the scene of the collision.

But prosecutor Matt Gaidos argued that Smith should be placed on felony probation, saying that Gaffey "gave Mr. Smith every benefit of the doubt that he was deserving of the court's leniency and that hasn't been earned."

Gaidos also said that when Smith returns to court on Feb. 25, Gaffey should consider sending Smith to state prison because he believes Smith deceived the judge about his wife's health at the Oct. 12 hearing.

Gaidos said Smith asked not to serve any time in jail in October because his wife was in delicate health because of her pregnancy and she needed bed rest.

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

Feigelson said Smith doesn't deny that he and his wife traveled to Dubai but she said Smith didn't misrepresent his wife's health condition.

The question of whether Smith deceived the court will be addressed at his Feb. 25 hearing.

After Thursday's hearing, Feigelson said she doesn't think the judge has the legal authority to increase Smith's sentence.

— Bay City News Service

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19 people like this
Posted by What the ???
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:38 am

Why is this man given so many second chances? He killed a man and left the scene of the accident and attempted to conceal his involvement. It is ridiculous that he didn't serve hard jail time! Now he has traveled outside the country a matter of weeks after sentencing and it still feels as if his punishment is far too lenient. Kudos to his lawyer, though--she definitely knows how to work the system!!!

11 people like this
Posted by The fix is in
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:32 am

I guess as an attorney, he thinks he can be above the law. Seems like his buddies in the Alameda court system are doing their best to cover for this scumbag.

14 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:08 pm

It seems justice is blind and stupid in this case. Why is this guy not doing serious time for killing another human, fleeing the scene and denying involvement?
How are we to a trust a system that is so dysfunctional?

24 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 2:59 pm

It's heartwarming to read about a husband that is so concerned about his wife's health during pregnancy, that he switched over from drinking to using cocaine. On the other hand, her "delicate condition" was apparently robust enough to handle being on an airplane for however many hours it takes to get to Dubai!

As a side comment, one thing I have realized over the years, is that unless I write down notes for myself about local judges, I am always a bit unsure about how to vote during judicial retention elections. Just saying....

8 people like this
Posted by Tammy
a resident of Danville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm

I cannot believe that is the only sentence given to this man! A friend of mine had a son that was involved in a hit and run because he was scared left the scene. He was not under any influence he backed up by accident into a crazy drunk who was chasing his car. He was given 6 months in prison and had to pay hundreds of thousands to this crackpot. His life was almost ruined. The crackpot wasn't even injured! AND this guy gets off with this judgement?

Like this comment
Posted by Judi
a resident of Danville
on Feb 13, 2016 at 12:41 am

Ummmm it's obvious why this guy is getting all the breaks others would never receive. It's not surprising he can LIE to the judge and get away with it----black lies matter.

2 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Danville
on Feb 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Judy - Please crawl back under your white hood and keep you racist comments to your self.

Like this comment
Posted by Bike Guy
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2016 at 10:44 am

I'd LOVE to see 25 year mandatory sentencing for anyone fleeing a collision scene:

We simply cannot tolerate this type of behavior. Just this weekend a DUI woman hit and killed a motorist on 80, left the scene to do donuts in a shopping center and then ran red lights and fled the cops for 30 miles to Vacaville.

Drill it into every new driver's skull: when you accept the responsibility of getting behind the wheel, you fully agree to stop at any collision and when any law enforcement directs you to pull over. Not doing this means 25 years in jail. No exceptions.

This is the driver who should spend 25 years behind bars. No exceptions. No reduced sentences.

Prisons too full? Not for these types. Offshore the prison system to China - that's ONE industry I wouldn't mind letting a third world country run.

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

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