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Lawyer Charged in Fatal Hit-And-Run that Killed Bicyclist Due in Court

Defendant's attorney says his client knew he "hit something" but not whether it was a person.

The attorney representing a San Ramon lawyer charged with felony hit-and-run in the death of a bicyclist struck and killed on Dougherty Valley Road in May gave a clue in an interview with Patch as to his possible defense.

Spencer Freeman Smith, due back in court at the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice Pleasanton on Tuesday to have a "special master" appointed to the case, also faces a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter.

"The question is did he [Smith] realize he hit a human being," William Gagen said. "He realized he hit something because there was a huge hole in the windshield. He called his insurance company the next day and left it parked in the garage."

Gagen confirmed that Smith did not call Dublin Police to report the collision. He was not able to give any further comment about why he did not call.

Alameda County District Attorney representative Teresa Drenick said no additional charges have been filed and that all of Smith's court appearances have been "setting dates."

Gagen said the case is moving slowly and that the "special master" is someone with technical ability to examine electronic equipment like laptops and iPads and is a standard procedure.

Dublin Police Lt. Herb Walters said police are now done with their investigation and that everything is "in the District Attorney's hands."

Simth has been charged with felony hit-and-run and a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter. Smith is accused of hitting bicyclist who was visiting Dublin from China when he was killed in the Dougherty Road and Fall Creek Road intersection at around 11:30 p.m. on May 15.

Smith was arrested by Dublin police three days later, after officers searched his San Ramon home and found a black Mercedes with damage to the windshield and front end. The car was missing the same parts that were found at the scene of the crash, Dublin police said.

The crash took place about three miles from Smith's home.

Smith is also in the process of a DMV hearing which deals with the status of his driver's license as it relates to this case. 

Walters wrote, via email:

"It is my understanding that the DMV hearing is going to be continued because Spencer's attorney was asking Officer Castellucio questions that he could not answer, only the detectives could, otherwise it would be hearsay."

Gagen was not able to comment on the DMV hearing as he is not representing Smith on that portion of the case. Gagen says Dublin Police have been very good to work with on this case.

"The last thing in the world that Smith or I want to say is that Dublin Police have been difficult," Gagen said. "Dublin Police have been extremely cooperative in letting us see what we want. They have put a lot of time and heart in this case."

Smith practiced law in San Francisco at the time of the collision.

Patch editor Patrick Creaven contributed to this story.

eme January 09, 2013 at 09:11 AM
"He realized he hit something because there was a huge hole in the windshield. He called his insurance company the next day and left it parked in the garage." It must a telephone pole. Or no, it is a reindeer/giant panda/dinosaur. Maybe it is an elephant since elephant bar is so close.
Paul Brewer January 09, 2013 at 03:05 PM
I guess when you kill someone it's not time to "man up".....
Mr.G January 09, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter? Wow, that surprises me.
Steve January 09, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Lawyers have no soul.the first question on the BAR exam is do you disavow your soul?.
forrest smith January 10, 2013 at 04:12 AM
I, Forrest Smith, MD, of Pleasanton, am not--repeat, NOT--the "Forrest Smith" who commented on this article on January 8, 2912 with "I guess when you're hammered you don't notice there's a bicyclist stuck in your windshield. D-bag!"
TimB January 10, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Strip his license, push the case forward and then let's see this murderer get his day in court, and then a long stretch in Santa Rita.
James Buckley January 13, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Another wealthy, crooked, Black Lawyer, Just the guy we need to run for President in 2016 !
James Buckley January 13, 2013 at 05:18 PM
It's to late Forest, Run Forests Run ! We know you are both one in the same. There goes your medical practice ! That what you get for both having Mr Gump for a Father.
49ergirl January 13, 2013 at 08:33 PM
misdemeanor? seriously? this guy KILLS a person and he's going to get a slap on the wrist. You have to wonder if he was drunk and weighed the options and realized a DUI w/manslaughter would be worse than hit & run. He KILLED someone and that poor man likely didn't die right away, so he left him on the street to suffer and die. I sure hope Smith gets disbarred.
Kimberly Halsey January 13, 2013 at 09:48 PM
I absolutely believe he was drunk. Who doesn't get out of their car to see what they hit when it does the damage to his car that killing this poor man did. This was reported in the news after it happened...he didn't see that the Dublin police were looking for the person that hit this man? What is ironic, is that this killer is a Civil Rights attorney. What a freaking hypocrite!!! He is going to get off and go on with his charmed life. He is scum!!! And before people get their panties in a bunch saying that I am jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts...keep it to yourself.
forrest smith January 14, 2013 at 05:35 AM
It’s obvious that Attorney Smith’s defense is going to be that he had no way of knowing anyone (human, that is) had been struck, and because there is no way the State can prove what he knew or didn’t, and because he called his insurance company the next morning and identified himself as the driver involved, it is very likely he will be acquitted on FELONY hit and run. As to the charge of MISDEMEANOR vehicular manslaughter, the State must prove Smith failed to drive his car with the care and caution of a reasonable person and thereby caused an accident that resulted in the death of another, but because there were no witnesses, the State will not be able to prove of Smith’s negligence, meaning he will likely be acquitted on that charge, too. Hard as it may be to accept, we all had better resign ourselves to the fact that Smith is going to walk on this one and not even lose his driving license. Now, as to Smith’s law license, if the State Bar allows an attorney with such abysmal personal judgment to continue to practice law in this state, well, then we know the fix is in. My prediction is Smith will get a slap on the professional wrist with perhaps a three- or six-month license suspension, during which his law firm will keep him on a full salary, and then it will be back to business as usual. Lawyers, like doctors, take care of their own. I’ve heard there are actually a few ethical and honorable attorneys at the California State Bar, so I hope I am surprised.
Becky January 14, 2013 at 04:16 PM
He claims he didn't know what he hit. If a person is so blind, that they can't even see what they are about to drive into, and see it bouncing off their windsheild, then basically they should not be driving.
Mr.G January 14, 2013 at 06:30 PM
His actions seem consistent with a guilty man trying to hide something.
Janice P Ellis January 14, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Ummm...just so we're clear, James, would it have been ok if he was a wealthy, crooked white lawyer? Not sure WHAT his race has to do with this.
Tom January 14, 2013 at 09:37 PM
What do you really expect from a cival rights lawyer. This seems in order to me.
Douggiemack January 15, 2013 at 12:28 AM
Smith,will sue china for allowing this gentleman to visit his family, sue dublin for not enough light on the road, sue the maker of the bike,sue the bar for serving to much liquor,and mercedes benz for not having a strong enough windshield. I hope the jury will see otherwise.
ken January 15, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Not to mention suing the hospital that allowed the guy who got in his car's path to be born in the first place!
Mr.G January 15, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I would hope the family of the deceased will file suit against him for wrongful death.
Becky January 16, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Yeah, wrongful death civil suit. That's how victims have to get their justice now. They should.
Mike smith January 20, 2013 at 06:34 AM
Before you guys get upset with the charges and question the investigation, why don't you educate yourself in read the California penal code sections for manslaughter and the vehicle code for vehicular manslaughter and hit and run. You have to prove intent...Also, have you ever worked a vehicle collision involving a fatal? Probably not. I have and it's a very lengthy and teadous investigation.
Mike smith January 20, 2013 at 06:37 AM
Oh, To prove DUI there has to be evidence... Since he was arrested hours later, if he was drunk the evidence is gone...
Glein Maxwell July 11, 2013 at 04:49 AM
http://www.smithpatten.com/attorneys/spencer-smith.html Oh Dude..,
Autumn Johnson (Editor) July 21, 2013 at 09:59 PM
http://dublin.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/attorney-charged-in-fatal-hitandrun-bike-collision-to-appear-in-court
Autumn Johnson (Editor) August 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM
http://dublin.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/case-continued-for-attorney-charged-in-fatal-hitandrun-bike-collision
Autumn Johnson (Editor) January 15, 2014 at 10:39 PM
Brother of Bicyclist Killed in 2012 Hit-And-Run Says the Death Left Him in 'Overwhelming Grief' http://dublin.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/brother-of-bicyclist-killed-in-2012-hitandrun-says-the-death-left-him-in-overwhelming-grief
Mom2boys January 16, 2014 at 01:15 PM
This man had to of been drunk. Otherwise why would he run? Had he been sober he wouldn't have run, it was 11:30 at night, the man (rip) may not have had a halogen light on his bike, the bicyclist may have swerved into traffic. This accident may not have been the defendants fault if he had not been drinking. In my opinion this is a felony manslaughter case.
forrest smith January 16, 2014 at 07:26 PM
As to the defendant's requesting a "Special Master", we have the following from "APPOINTING SPECIAL MASTERS AND OTHER JUDICIAL ADJUNCTS: A Handbook for Judges and Lawyers" "1.13 Criminal Case Master In criminal cases, special masters can assist the court in administering the resolution of cases. Masters can assist the prosecution and the defense in negotiating plea bargains while preserving and protecting the interest of the public and the constitutional rights of the defendant. Judicial adjuncts may also help in administering or monitoring non-jail sentencing terms and conditions. The master’s role is also to review sensitive documents and secure them until a court determines if the items are privileged. " Clearly, Freeman-Smith, himself an attorney, is pulling out all the stops and taking advantage of "special" stuff none of us peasants ever heard of and none of us common folk would ever be able to have if we were in a similar situation. Don't be surprised if the State of California and/or the victim's family is ordered to pay for the broken windshield on the defendant's Mercedes. "Special Master" means special treatment for special people.
Becky January 16, 2014 at 07:36 PM
Lawyers know how to work it to get away with something.
Ken Johnson January 23, 2014 at 04:49 PM
My 'gut' feeling get stronger - telling me that he will get away with this, all evidence will be 'lost' and he will continue to practice law. Although I do not know Smith, I am convinced he has zero remorse and this is a simply little bump in the road for him. In a civilized society he would face the errors of his ways - however, society is not all that civilized and I believe Smith sees no errors in his ways. Boy - did he ever pick the right profession! Sleazy and using every option available to him.
Rick James April 07, 2014 at 11:36 PM
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty. .

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