San Francisco Attorney Arrested After Parts Of His Mercedes Traced To Fatal Hit-And-Run

Spencer Freeman Smith, 32, a partner at the San Francisco firm of Smith Patten was arrested this week on suspicion of felony hit-and-run and manslaughter in connection with the death and hit-and-run of Bo Hu, 57, of China, who was bicycling along a road when he was hit by a Mercedes-Benz. Police traced pieces of Smith’s brand new 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 to his home.

Since the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is a new model, it made it easier for the police. Once identifying the parts as belonging to a Mercedes-Benz CLS550, police subpoenaed the names and addressed of everyone who purchased the new vehicle. When they went to Smith’s home, they found matching damage on his vehicle, including “extensive windshield and front-end damage.”

Notably, Smith has two convictions in California for speeding within the past year. The accident occurred about 11:30 p.m.

He was admitted to the bar in 2005. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law and has no record of prior bar actions against him.

This could not be worse for Smith. Hitting a man on the road and then cruising away in your luxury vehicle is not the type of case you want to put in front of a jury. Since there is damage to the window, he cannot plausibly argue that he did not know he hit someone, or at least something, in the dark. The best he can argue is that he thought that he hit an object and kept going, but that is not convincing as a defense in this circumstance. Worse still, judges tend to be far more severe in sentencing with lawyers who are expected to maintain a higher standard of adherence and fealty to the law.

In addition, it would seem likely that the family will sue for wrongful death in tort so that Smith would be facing a two-front legal threat. He could find a new meaning to the Mercedes slogan “the best or nothing.”

Here is his bio:

Spencer F. Smith has earned a reputation for being one of the top young employment litigators in Northern California. Mr. Smith has settled seven figure cases with Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Smith has also reached six figure settlements with Parsons Brinkerhoff, In-In-Out, and other Fortune 500 companies.

Mr. Smith’s practice also includes public sector employment, including the City and County of San Francisco, Contra Costa County, and various municipalities and governmental entities throughout California. Mr. Smith has successfully argued cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Court of Appeals. Mr. Smith has co-counseled with several high profile civil rights firms, serving as adviser and chief strategist in the majority of cases.

Now in his own firm, Mr. Smith continues to vindicate employment rights throughout California. In the past two years Mr. Smith has represented a wide range of clients in many different types of situations: whistle blowing, wage-and-hour law, retaliation, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, and age discrimination.

Source: SFGate

21 thoughts on “San Francisco Attorney Arrested After Parts Of His Mercedes Traced To Fatal Hit-And-Run

  1. Panic does lend itself to sound decision making.


    I think CA uses pure comparative negligence as their standard, but I’m still too decaffeinated to be inclined to look it up for verification.

  2. How do lawyers compare with John Doe on hit-and-runs?

    Will this one gain from the notoriety?

    Will he list it?

    We’ll have to forget the Mercedes CLS550 as a qualifying factor. But it could be an influence. Don’t want to broaden the study too much. Correlation may not prove causation, we learned just the other day.

  3. This exposes the work of the amygdala.

    All that sensory input went first to the amygdala for processing, as does all sensory input.

    The various forms of fear Spencer Freeman had allowed to develop deep down within the 98% of his cognitive faculties all had their say.

    Then a great pulse of denial overflowed the rest, a subconscious tsunami ensued to putting spin / deceit on the sensory data.

    Reality was swept away by the surge, so subsequent analysis was based on the distortions and power of fear and its cohorts.

    “You can get away with it, you are special, there are no witnesses, and your partners in the firm can beat it in court anyway if they find you, but don’t worry about that now, RUN!”

  4. “Once identifying the parts as belonging to Mercedes-Benz CLS550, police subpoenaed the names and addressed of everyone who purchased the new vehicle.”

    A sad situation for all involved. I am intrigued about how the police subpoenaed every Mercedes dealer to find out who bought the new car. Maybe they subpoenaed Mercedes USA but imagine the length of the list. Seems a bit overbroad to me and how could they possibly narrow the field?

  5. Wow. I would suspect that unless he was drunk when driving, he probably would have been cleared had he just stayed at the scene. I live in the middle of nowhere and have had some close calls with cyclists who don’t wear reflective vests at night. People don’t realize they’re practically invisible without some form of reflective material.

    A lot of immigrants who can’t afford better means of transportation use bikes where I live and don’t follow traffic rules.

    The night time visibility problems are even worse in cities where bikers are closer to cars. Then in SF/Contra Costa county, filled with hills.

    This reminds me of the case of the lawyer who was driving drunk down route 7 here in VA late a night when she struck and killed a girl walking down Rt. 7. The women just kept going, claiming that she thought she hit a deer. She lost her license.

  6. mespo,

    They probably directed the query to MB USA. You would be surprised at the record keeping at Mercedes (and BMW for that matter). Or maybe you wouldn’t. They are very in to customer service and as part of that, they like to know as much about their new car purchasers as possible. They treat buying a car as an “experience” versus a routine commercial transaction. A huge part of their value is derived from perception. That being said, they do build well engineered cars although they sometimes over engineer too. The ridiculous number of motors in the power convertible top of some SL models comes to mind.

  7. Mercedes drivers seem to be the ones who expect everyone else to get off their road – the ones who are speeding, come up behind you while you’re passing another car, flash their headlights repeatedly expecting you to get out of their way.

  8. Bettykath, That is what they do in Germany on the Autobahns. I have been doing 90mph as fast as my rental car could go, and those BMWs and Mercedes ride my bumper till I pull into the next lane. I guess that they must have autopilots on those cars too, so the car simply does what it is programmed to do.

    In Texas we had a woman who was killed by a hit and run driver at night who said he hit a deer and that is why he kept on going. The family of the worman combed the area where her husband had seen a truck turn into a road, and they found the truck with major damage to it. They called the cops, they took the truck, found it was the one, but since the kids father worked for the police dept, he has not been even charged.

  9. When you hear the sound of hooves, think horses-asses, not zebras. Translated it means do a Cal check or even SF check for those with special parking privileges. They know how rich people function, it is life necessary.

    Besides, it may be true everything is on file, available on request to the FBI, it’s the new federally approved coop law. You all know of it.
    The Mercedes CLS, being overengineered, has already reported it collision via satellite and the new parts are already ordered. CLS? Custom Leotards Suck. Nope, Custom Limited Sport.

  10. “You would be surprised at the record keeping at Mercedes (and BMW for that matter).” (Gene)

    Surprised? … only if one doesn’t know history. :???:

  11. Blouise,

    Since you mentioned it, do you know whatever happened with the facts recently revealed (?) about IBM and their recordkeeping for Holocaust? Did they all get medals? “Iron Stars of David”? Sorry for my poor taste.

    It’s better thatn my getting sick at the idea. Which is my first inclination.

    I missed the punchline, if there was one. Obliged.

  12. “Riding a bike at 11:30 at night? Does California have a contributory negligence rule?”

    Nal, you’re one of the few lawyers around here I have any respect for, and I am shocked you would suggest the bicyclist is at fault.

    Bicyclists are obviously legally entitled to ride on the road.

    Your suggestion is like asking if a motorcyclist would have been negligent if they had been hit. If a SmartCar driver would have been negligent for driving, or if any driver would have been negligent just for being on the road.


    Night Riding
    Bicycle must be equipped with the following:
    Light: A white headlamp, attached to the bicycle or your body, visible from 300 feet to the front and from the sides
    Red rear reflector
    White or yellow reflectors on front and back of each pedal
    White or yellow reflectors on each side forward of center of bike, and red or white reflectors on each side rear of center – usually mounted on wheel spokes (If you have reflectorized tires in front and rear, you do not need side reflectors.)

    Assuming the bicycle had these things on it, and was otherwise riding legally then how could the bicyclist have contributed to the accident merely because he was riding at night?

  13. Sorry for the threadjack, but I urge everyone here to read George Will’s column about how the DOJ is trying to seize a motel because in 17 years there have been 30 drug arrests there, representing “less than 5/100ths of 1 percent of the 125,000 rooms Caswell has rented over those more than 6,700 days” in violation, seemingly of the 8th and 10th amendments.

  14. Based on the post alone, it seems that all they have right now is a guilty car. Can they demonstrate that he was the driver?

  15. How the hell did she get the bike from China to Frisco? Did not this guy leave the car at the parking garage with the keys in the hands of the attendant when he walked into the office building? I would have.

  16. its unlikely, but even with the cyclist rules of chp being followed, its possible the cyclist lost control/swerved in front of the car accidentally and unavoidably. Doesnt excuse fleeing the scene.
    likely that alchohol was involved…or he would have stayed

  17. The attorney is done. I’m surprised he didn’t try the oldest trick in the book: Abandon the car in a remote area and then report it stolen, of course in the morning after sobering up. Nobody should have had to die like the victim had. Sorrow to him and his family.

    The Prosecutor in a certain Washington county, the name I won’t mention but rhymes with “Grant County” in my opinion is possibly going to get his bar license suspended and hence be ejected from office for what, among other malfeasances, started from a Judge allegedly being involved in a Hit & Run collision. The case is going before the WA Supreme Court for a hearing. The WA State Bar Assn’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel has a very large file on the Prosecutor.

    and here:

    The former prosecutor (Knodell) ran for a superior court judge position and vacated the prosecutor’s office. The former prosecutor is a good and honorable man, the present incumbent who is the subject of this WASC hearing, has in my opinion done some rather dastardly deeds.

    Probably one of the surest signs of what was to come was when now current prosecutor Angus Lee tried to court favor with the County Commissioners who, under the state constitution / law, were to appoint a replacement to the incumbant prosecutor who vacated after after the judge election. Several persons at the prosecutor’s office and other persons in the know told me months prior, the Auditor’s office had noted that due to an accounting error, Angus was paid/compensated at a mistakenly higher wage than he was statutorily permitted to receive. When requested to return / credit the amounts overpaid to his salary, Angus refused several demands to do so over several months.

    Just before Angus had the hearing before the commissioners to present himself for consideration for the position of Acting Prosecutor, It might have even been that day, Angus suddenly paid off this overpayment.

    Oh, and since it is apparent one of your friends will eventually get word of my post in this public forum Angus, please review RCW 4.24.525 before any rash decisions are made.

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