Trial date set for San Ramon attorney charged in hit-and-run death

Case moves forward after more than a year of delays

Nearly two years after being arrested for running down a bicyclist in Dublin, felony charges are moving forward for a San Ramon attorney.

Spencer Freeman Smith briefly appeared in Hayward Superior Court on Thursday morning, with a new hearing and a trial set for the coming months.

Smith is charged with hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter in the May 17, 2012 death of Bo Hu. Police tracked Smith by tracing wreckage left at the scene to a Mercedes dealership, which led to Smith's 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550, according to court documents.

A disposition hearing -- which could lead to a resolution of the case against the San Francisco-based employment lawyer -- is set for Feb. 20.

Smith's attorney pointed out that his client is also a lawyer and asked that Smith be allowed not to attend that hearing. That brought a sharp response from prosecutor Matthew Gold.

"I don't care who he is, he's like anyone else here," Gold said.

Smith waived a preliminary hearing in December, which allows the case to move forward at a jury trial, set for April 28, unless the matter is resolved at the Feb. 20 hearing.

Hu, 57, a Chinese national who was living in San Ramon at the time, was either walking or riding his bicycle northbound on Dougherty Road near Fall Creek Road at the time of the crash. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Since Hu's death, Smith has had at least six postponements to the case. His preliminary hearing was repeatedly set and rescheduled. He turned down a plea offer, although prosecutors are prohibited from discussing details of the deal.

He also canceled a Cert hearing, in which a proposed resolution would have been made to a judge, who would have the option of adopting or rejecting it.

His only appearance until Thursday was in June, 2012, when he entered a not guilty plea. He said nothing at that first appearance but a few whispered words to his attorney.

Smith is a partner at the San Francisco firm of Smith Patten. No bar actions related to the case have been taken since the 2012 crash, and he remains free on bond.


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