It looks like Seam is just catching and rethrowing exceptions that come from my app. So the package root of the exception is org.jboss... instead of the package root of my app.
I had been using smtphandler to catch SEVERE messages coming from my app's package root, thus missing those errors. Now that taken out the package root qualifier, it works without a servlet filter, that is the smtphandler logs out the SEVERE messages via email now. Disaster averted.