As a bicycle safety advocate and bicycle accident attorney myself, it hits really close to home when a member of our legal system commits such a heanous crime like a hit-and-run, and I take no pleasure in telling you this story, except with hope that you may learn from this man’s mistakes.
Spencer Freeman Smith, a local labor attorney, will be serving at least 30 days jail for killing a Chinese tourist in a hit-and-run accident in Dublin which occured in 2012. Smith was setnenced to five years felony probation, and a year in county jail, but could apply to serve out his jail sentence vi electronic home detention after spending 30 days in the Santa Rita jail in Dublin.
The incident, which occured three years earlier, involved Smith and a Bo Hu, a Chinese financial advisor, when Smith ran into Hu with his Mercedes-Benz sedan. Smith did not apply the brakes after the impact and instead drove away from the scene, only to be found and confronted by Dublin police the day after.
Although Judge Michael Gaffey did comment that he believes Smith did not mean to hit Hu, who was walking his bicycle down the dark road that night, Smith should have at least stopped to assist Hu after the collision, instead of driving away, and as an attorney, Smith shoud have known better.
“He knew exactly what he was doing in leaving, and he did intentionally” Gaffey said.
Although the judge was not legally allowed to consider the thoery that Smith was driving drunk when he klled Hu, as there were no evidence supplied to the court, Smith had visited three San Francisco drinking establishments prior to the accident.
Smith provided a brief statement to te court where he expressed “deep remorse” to the family, and have moved since the accident due to death threats on him and his family.
Regardles of Smiths’ deep remorse, a hit and run is absolutely inexcusible, especially for a member of our legal system. Smith knew his obligations and disregarded them, for his own interest. This is not the type of behavior I expect to see out of attorneys, and it’s behavior that I woud never condone. I hope we can all learn a lesson from Smith, own up to your mistakes and stay at the scene, in a hit and run, everyone loses.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.