A brief Hope Solo court update

On Thursday, Hope Solo’s assault case will be officially remanded to the trial court, Kirkland Municipal Court … unless Solo’s counsel decides to appeal again.

That’s the upshot of the stack of paper I managed to procure and have shipped cross-country to me in an effort to figure out the status of her case. Two words, court system: Electronic records. Please.

I reached out to Solo’s two listed lawyers to ask whether they would once again seek a review in the state’s Court of Appeals. They did not answer.

But barring a successful review of the review of the appeal of the case being reinstated, Solo will be in court sometime in … 2017? Maybe?

The irony here is that Solo’s counsel got the case thrown out at one point because a judge sympathized with the argument that she shouldn’t have to choose between due process (adequately questioning all the witnesses) and a speedy trial, and now the case has dragged out far longer than it should have. The primary delaying force, though, is simple bad luck. Solo’s lawyers have had several valid reasons to delay the case — you’d have to be rather heartless to deny a motion for an extension to a lawyer whose wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here’s how we reached this point.

June 21, 2014: Solo is arrested on charges of fourth-degree assault after an incident with her half-sister, Teresa Obert, and nephew, identified in court papers as C.O. because he was a minor at the time. ESPN reports in October 2015 that she was belligerent toward arresting officers.

December 2014-January 2015: Several delays in the defense’s attempts to get depositions from Obert and C.O. One delay is procedural — do you need a subpoena or just a “notice of deposition” to compel someone to appear? When they are deposed, C.O. cites doctor-patient privilege in response to a couple of questions about his medical history and medication. On Dec. 30, the court orders Obert and C.O. to appear on Jan. 2; the response is “I don’t know if we can make that.” And they don’t. The court tries again Jan. 6 to get them to appear Jan. 8, but Obert’s husband says they’re out of the state. (All of this is reconstructed from the Court of Appeals ruling of July 7, 2016.)

Jan. 13, 2015: Kirkland Municipal Court judge dismisses charges against Solo. The factors are “pattern of the City’s witnesses’ failure to cooperate with defense interviews” and an amended witness list of Dec. 29. Solo’s counsel had said the new witnesses on the list had refused to talk.

Feb. 9, 2015: Kirkland lawyers file in King County Superior Court to reconsider the case. Again from the 7-7-2016 ruling: “The City argued that the trial court improperly conflated the City’s obligations with the witnesses’ conduct.”

The docket showing how the case proceeded in King County Superior Court has been intermittently available online.

Oct. 2, 2015: Superior Court Judge Douglass North reverses lower court’s decision, sends case back to lower court. The ruling, included as an appendix to an Oct. 29 filing I obtained, says North heard motion from Kirkland “to remand this case back to the trial court for an abuse of discretion under 8.3 and 4.7. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case be remanded back to the trial court for a trial. Court finds there was an abuse of discretion.” More detail from the 7-7-16 filing: “The court reasoned that dismissal ‘requires willful or arbitrary action on the part of the government, not on the basis of the witnesses.’”

Oct. 29, 2015: Solo’s counsel asks state Court of Appeals for a discretionary review of North’s Oct. 2 decision. This docket report is online.

Nov. 6, 2015: Solo gets extension on filing full motion until Dec. 28. Reasons given: Todd Maybrown, Solo’s lawyer throughout this case, is prepping for the murder-for-hire trial of James Perry Henrikson. The legal team has added James Lobsenz, but he was not present at trial and is getting up to speed while he has six other appellate briefs due.

January 2016: Solo gets another extension to Jan. 15, but “no further extensions.” Three documents were filed through the month — presumably Solo’s motion (Jan. 12), then definitely Kirkland’s response to her motion (Jan. 22), then Solo’s response to Kirkland (Jan. 29). I don’t have these documents, but I have a Feb. 1 document about the dates in which they were all due.

March-May 2016: After some back and forth about whether the motion should be heard by oral argument, the motion was indeed heard May 27.

June 7, 2016: Solo’s motion for review is denied by Court of Appeals Commissioner Masako Kanazawa, whose ruling is “essentially upholding the superior court’s ruling,” according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The last paragraph of Kanazawa’s ruling (note: Solo is using her married name, Stevens, in this case):


July 7: Kanazawa grants motion for extension of time to file a motion to modify until August 8. Counsel’s wife just learned she had breast cancer and needed surgery.

August 5: Solo’s motion to modify is filed. The basic idea: Please “modify” the ruling denying my discretionary review by entering a ruling granting discretionary review. Quite a modification — legalese is fun!

Solo’s counsel reiterates the delays in Obert and C.O.’s deposition but also hits the prosecution for adding four witnesses late in the process — two doctors, Jeffrey Obert and a Corey (or Cori, depending on the document) Parks, who lives in Florida. The motion says these witnesses have refused to be interviewed by defense.

Kirkland’s response, if it chose to file one, would be due August 15. The city decided not to respond. That’s confidence.

Oct. 4: Motion denied — there will be no modification of the ruling denying the motion for discretionary review. The order has three signatures with last names matching Court of Appeals judges Michael Spearman, Ronald Cox and Stephen Dwyer.

The cover letter sending the order to Kirkland and Solo counsel reads, “The order will become final unless counsel files a motion for discretionary review within thirty days from the date of this order.”

Nov. 3: The Court of Appeals docket says “Certificate of Finality: Due.”

Though, in this case, it would really be the beginning, sending the case back to trial court just as Solo makes plans to go to North Carolina (as stated in her Fullscreen documentary) or even overseas, as she recently hinted.

Did you know?: Major cricket event in USA

If your stereotype of cricket is that it lasts several days, you may be in for a shock. More and more cricket is being played these days in its abbreviated forms — the “one-day” format and the even shorter “Twenty20” game, which can easily be shorter than a typical baseball game.

And yet its competitions go on for years and years.

So when we tell you the World Cricket League Division 4 will be in Los Angeles, starting this weekend, we need to give a bit of context.

First, this is neither Test cricket nor Twenty20. It’s one-day cricket, which takes pretty much the whole day.

“Division 4” implies promotion and relegation. And indeed, there is. But it’s really more of a rolling tiered qualifier for the 2019 World Cup.

The 2019 World Cup will have 10 teams, down from 14 in 2011 and 2015. It will feature:

  • 8 teams from the One-Day International (ODI) Championship — basically, the 12 teams with full “ODI status,” which are the 10 nations with “Test” status (see below), plus Ireland and Afghanistan.
  • 2 teams from the World Cup qualifier.

The World Cup qualifier, in 2018, will feature:

  • 4 teams (the bottom four) from the ODI Championship.
  • 4 teams (the top four) from the World Cricket League Championship, an ongoing (2015-17) competition for the second tier of national teams.
  • 2 teams promoted from Division 2.

Division 2, in 2018-ish, will feature:

  • 4 teams relegated from the World Cricket League Championship.
  • 2 teams promoted from Division 3

Division 3, next year, will feature:

  • 2 teams already relegated from when Division 2 last played in 2015.
  • 2 teams that kept their place when Division 3 last played in 2014
  • 2 teams that will be promoted from Division 4.

Which brings us back to Los Angeles. And you guessed it — in addition to the two teams that will be promoted to Division 3, two will remain in Division 4, and the bottom two will play in Division 5 whenever this whole cycle starts again.


Yes, I’ve had to get all this from Wikipedia, because good luck finding an explanation elsewhere.

Here’s who’s who:

TEST STATUS (10; all also have ODI status): Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies have all participated in all 11 Cricket World Cups. They’re also the only winners (Australia 5, India 2, West Indies 2, Sri Lanka 1, Pakistan 1, England nil, New Zealand nil). South Africa has played all seven since apartheid ended. Zimbabwe has been in the last nine, Bangladesh in the last five.

ODI STATUS ONLY (2): Ireland and Afghanistan. Ireland has been in the last three World Cups. Afghanistan debuted in 2015.

WORLD CRICKET LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP (8; top four advance to World Cup qualifier): In order of current standings, it’s Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, Scotland, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nepal, Namibia and United Arab Emirates. Kenya used to be great in this sport, qualifying for five straight World Cups and reaching the semifinal in 2003, but they missed out in 2015. Netherlands have made it four times, Scotland three, UAE twice, Namibia once.

DIVISION 2 (6): Will be the bottom four from the World Cricket League Championship and the top two from Division 3.

DIVISION 3 (6): Uganda and Canada were relegated from the last Division 2 competition in 2015. Malaysia and Singapore kept their spots when Division 3 last played in 2014. Then it’s the top two from Division 4 …

DIVISION 4 (6): USA and Bermuda were relegated from Division 3. Denmark and Italy kept their spots. Jersey and Oman were promoted from Division 5.

So yes, the USA could make it to the World Cup. Just finish in the top two in Los Angeles, then in the Division 3 tournament, then in the Division 2 tournament, then in the World Cup qualifier.

Piece of cake, right?

All of this is happening just as the USA has yet another plan for a professional league on the table. The problem is that this isn’t the first attempt. Here’s a quick timeline:

2004: American ProCricket. Twenty20 with a designated hitter who doesn’t have to field, plus fewer restrictions on bowlers. San Francisco Freedom? Los Angeles Unity??!!

The final was held on a baseball field with the infield dirt in place:

2000s: Major League Cricket. Had no support from the fractious U.S. federation and never actually played.

2009: American Premier League, also unsanctioned, and federations worked to sandbag it.

2009: USA Premier League, announced by U.S. federation to start in 2011.

2011: American Twenty20 Championship, a tournament pitting region vs. region, played once.

2012: Cricket Holdings America announces franchise process.

2015: American Pro Cricket, announced by Lloyd Jodah of American College Cricket.

September 2016: USA Cricket Association and Global Sports Ventures reach $70M licensing deal.

Will the international tournament on U.S. soil help prod a pro league into existence? We can only hope. But first, maybe someone in the media will notice that it’s actually happening?




It’s time to introduce a two-legged MLS Cup – with a twist | Sport | The Guardian

The single final is insufficient, and the two-leg final doesn’t reward the higher-seeded team for their regular-season performance. So why not combine the two?

Source: It’s time to introduce a two-legged MLS Cup – with a twist | Sport | The Guardian

Curling update: Manitoba showdown, Week 2

Craig Brown and John Shuster each picked up three wins to break even at the triple-elimination Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Manitoba. Brown beat Shuster head-to-head, while Shuster picked up a big win over third-ranked Mike McEwen.

Pete Fenson and the half-his-age team snagged one win. Arizona’s Mike Siggins was shut out.

Brown still slipped one place in my rankings behind Brady Clark (see below). The women’s rankings are unchanged.


Atkins Curling Supplies Classic, Manitoba: Jamie Sinclair and Cassie Potter each posted a 2-2 record in group play, but only Sinclair advanced to the quarterfinals, where she lost in an extra end. Potter, the 2006 Olympic skip, had a 7-4 win over Manitoba’s Joelle Brown, ranked 31st in the Order of Merit. Lysa Johnson also skipped a U.S. team, going 0-4.

Hub International Crown of Curling, Kamloops, B.C.: Short trip for Brady Clark and Cristin Clark from Washington state. Brady racked up five wins, including three in a row to stave off elimination and reach the semifinals. Cristin alternated wins and losses in the women’s event, finishing 2-3.

Rochester’s Brandon Corbett was in action at the Stroud Sleeman Cash Spiel in Ontario, going 2-2 but not advancing to the playoffs.

And Kalamazoo Curling Club hosted a tournament, with Pennsylvania’s Sean Murray defeating Colorado’s Darryl Sobering in the final.

Next week:

Canad Inns Women’s Classic, Manitoba: The three HP teams — Christensen, Sinclair and Roth — face a field that has about half of the world’s top 30 in the women’s edition of last week’s top men’s tournament.

Medicine Hat Charity Classic, Alberta: Jessica Schultz heads northward.

Challenge de Curling de Gatineau, Quebec: Heath McCormick and Alex Leichter test their language skills.

Imperial Slam: Several U.S. juniors will compete in the next stage of the juniors series.

Stats work against Cubs (and all regular-season wonders)

The Cubs had the best record in MLB this year, and enter the NL Championship Series as favorites – but history shows such a record is usually a kiss of death.

Story includes references to Spinal Tap and the Washington Spirit.

Source: Is this finally the Chicago Cubs’ year? Sadly, the stats suggest not | Sport | The Guardian

Curling update: McCormick on the move

Most top U.S. curling teams descended on Minnesota over the weekend for the mostly American St. Paul Cash Spiel, giving us a good opportunity to see how the teams stack up face to face.

The answer? Heath McCormick’s new High Performance team is No. 1. McCormick — with HP veteran Chris Plys and recent juniors Corey Dropkin and Thomas Howell — made a great start to the season, taking second in the Oakville Fall Classic for 30.7 Order of Merit points, the top U.S. men’s performance of the season so far.

This week, McCormick rolled rather convincingly through St. Paul, winning all seven games by at least three points.

Second place went to a High Performance team missing its skip — Kroy Nernberger led the team in place of Craig Brown and knocked out John Shuster in the quarterfinals. That’s their second strong showing of the season, and that’s enough to move them past previous No. 1 Shuster in my generally subjective rankings.

Todd Birr, still kicking at age 48, upset Brady Clark in the quarterfinals.

The biggest surprise the other direction: Pete Fenson struggled and didn’t make the quarterfinals. And the lone North Carolina team got more wins (1) than both Arizona teams (0) in the 20-team field (17 U.S., 3 Canadian).

So the rankings show McCormick moving up to No. 1, followed by Brown (Nernberger), Clark, Shuster and Birr. Also moving up: St. Paul quarterfinalists Stephen Dropkin and Bill Stopera, though they’re still behind Fenson (who has to put it together at some point) and Hunter Clawson, who has been concentrating on junior tournaments with no Order of Merit points so far.

Also this weekend, Alex Leichter played in an event in Ottawa in which he was 2-1 in pool play but didn’t make the quarterfinals for reasons not quite clear from the site.

Women: Most American teams were also in St. Paul, where Cory Christensen won for the second straight year. The 21-year-old skip shook off a group-stage loss to Jessica Schultz and beat Jamie Sinclair in the semis and Nina Roth 7-6 in the final. Schultz won a tiebreaker for the other semifinal slot, while her 2006 teammate Cassie Potter was 2-2 in group play. High Performance juniors Madison Bear and AnnMarie Dubberstein won one each.

So Christensen is now No. 1 in the rankings, closely followed by Roth, Sinclair and Schultz.

Week ahead: 

Brown, Fenson, Shuster and Mike Siggins (Arizona) are heading to the Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Manitoba.

Jamie Sinclair and Cassie Potter are also Manitoba-bound for the Atkins Curling Supplies Classic.

Brady Clark and Cristin Clark will travel from their Washington homes to the Hub International Crown of Curling in Kamloops, B.C.

Brandon Corbett is in action at the Stroud Sleeman Cash Spiel in Ontario.

The only webcast I’ve found so far — TESN will be at the Atkins Curling Supplies Classic.

The NWSL final, soccer’s cruelty and the most D.C. finish ever

Most of the time, journalists are able to put aside personal sentiments in sports and just do their jobs. Most of the time.

Readers’ accusations of bias are usually wrong. I’ve been on a sports staff in which we were all accused of attending one or another of the local high schools, even though we all grew up elsewhere. That’s typical.

When I regularly covered MLS in my USA TODAY days, people assumed I was a D.C. United fan. I generally tried not to be, and I think I was successful. Sure, you’d prefer to have a playoff game to see without traveling, so it was in my own interest to see United make the final eight or 10 or 37 or however many teams get home playoff dates in MLS. But at every game I attended, I went to the visitors’ locker room. I wanted to know the whole league. I have more vivid memories of speaking with Landon Donovan and Jimmy Conrad than I have of talking with any D.C. United players.

And I had something less obvious tugging at me as a fan. Real Salt Lake represents one of my favorite places in the world, and for several years, they had two Duke grads in charge — Garth Lagerwey and Jason Kreis. I like Utah, I liked the team’s staff, and I liked the style of play. If RSL had faced DC in an MLS Cup final, I’m not sure which way I would’ve leaned.

I have other sports in which I’m content to be a fan and not a journalist. I had hockey-editing responsibility at USA TODAY for a couple of years, but since then, I’ve been able to be a Washington Capitals fan with my family. That means I really enjoy the regular season and then try to go into hiding in April.

My relationship with the Washington Spirit is unique. I wrote a book about their first season, and it certainly would’ve been better for book sales if they had (A) won a few games or (B) had something interesting to say about not winning a few games. It’s tempting to look back on that experience with a grimace and have no investment in how well they do.

But I can’t. I met too many great people in the process of writing that book. And the Spirit did a great job of getting out in the community — I’ve taken my kids to clinics and open practices, and I know people who’ve played or coached in their Super-Y youth system.

And that first season was a long run of calamities. No one deserved to go through all of that. Those players — and the staff and the incredible fans of the Spirit Squadron, who may be outnumbered by their Portland counterparts but more than hold their own in every other way — deserve some good fortune.

Not that I think fortunes ever even out in soccer. I’ve said it 100 times — soccer karma does not exist. I could break the WordPress servers with tales of woe from my youth soccer parenting and coaching experience, all of which makes me quite sympathetic to the 2013 Spirit (or the 2016 Breakers).

That said, two of my youth teams have won postseason tournaments after finishing near the bottom of the league. So I can also appreciate what Western New York did this year or what Sky Blue did in the 2009 WPS season. Sure, Seattle fans have a right to feel aggrieved by the eccentric NWSL schedule, which saw the Reign play Portland four times while the Flash beat up on the Breakers. But the Western New York youngsters put things together at the right time, and we reward that trait in American sports with good reason.

But I know that for every scrappy underdog that wins in the last minute, there’s a favorite that feels deflated.

And for those reasons, I’m glad I didn’t have to write anything in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s NWSL final, in which the Spirit gave up a goal in time that should not have existed. (I’m sorry — who adds four minutes of stoppage time to a 15-minute extra time session unless an ambulance was called onto the field?)

The final proof that soccer karma does not exist — the three players who missed penalties for the Spirit were the three players who have been with the team since its dreadful start in 2013. That’s actually enough to make you think there is someone up there pulling the strings to determine who wins what, and it’s someone with a sick sense of humor.

Also, we in the D.C. metro area have suffered quite enough, thank you. We’d all like to get rid of our local NFL team’s mascot and owner, though we’re sick of transplants to the region showing us up every Sunday wearing their Giants and Eagles gear. (We get it. You’re jerks. Thanks for reminding us.) D.C. United won a lot of trophies before Seattle and Portland invented soccer, so no one remembers. The one really good team in the D.C. area over the past 10 years has been the Washington Capitals, where Oveckhin, Backstrom and Holtby will break your hearts right around the peak viewing time for the cherry blossoms.

So to have a heavily favored team like the Spirit, with so much talent that Jim Gabarra was desperately trying to invent the 5-5-3 formation to play everyone, lose in the fashion they did is simply the most D.C. thing that could ever happen.

And so I’m heartsick for Tori Huster, who has made my kids smile at clinics and open practices. And for Diana Matheson, who exemplifies the polite, intellectual Canadian but is also a fierce competitor. And for Ali Krieger, who hasn’t always been at her best in her Spirit tenure but shut up her critics with an excellent season and strong commitment to the team. And for Joanna Lohman, who persevered through several Dark Ages of women’s soccer and suited up once upon a time for D.C. United Women, the amateur forerunners of today’s Spirit.

I sometimes wonder why I put up with this sport. Sunday’s game was excruciating to watch. The ref called the game as if he were paid by the whistle or by the minute — some clear-cut instances in which the advantage principle should’ve applied were interrupted instead, and as much as I hate seeing refs let “physical” play go, some of Sunday’s calls were baffling. I also saw yet another painful youth soccer game. And this year, the soccer Twitterati took a hateful turn that made the promotion/relegation wingnuts seem like Zen masters by comparison.

But …

Well, I haven’t come up with anything yet. But I’m sure I will. I don’t know if I’ll continue to be a fixture in the Spirit press tent, but I’ll still be going to games. I’ve used my new Sirius XM subscription to listen to Jason Davis and Eric Wynalda today, and I’m watching somebody play a World Cup qualifier now. I’m not even sure who it is.

Maybe that’s not healthy. That’s OK.

Besides, the saving grace of being a long-suffering soccer fan is the knowledge that others are suffering with you. And maybe celebrating on occasion. Or at least commiserating.



The underrated long throw-in (NWSL semifinals)

A few years ago at the NSCAA Convention, a prominent ACC men’s soccer coach gave a presentation on one of the hot topics of the year: “Development vs. Winning.”

With video, he shamed an opponent that beat his team with a long throw-in. At his program, of course, they teach proper development, not little tricks like that to win games.

A few days later, I saw someone score a Premier League goal off, you guessed it, a long throw-in. So I started to wonder what level of play was above the Premier League, because he’s apparently preparing his players for that.

Yesterday in Portland, Jessica McDonald’s long throw-in was a potent weapon for the Western New York Flash in its shocking 4-3 extra-time win over the Portland Thorns, eliminated the regular-season champion from the NWSL playoffs. The commentators marveled, and I’m sure some purists howled.

Surely no one would tell youth coaches to ditch the “footskills” emphasis and start training U-9s to turn their arms into trebuchets. But beyond the youth level, long throw-ins are simply part of the game.

And it’s not as if the Thorns play on a narrow field — at least, not any more. We see some tiny fields in the NWSL and MLS (see NYCFC at Yankee Stadium), but this field is a substantial 75 yards wide unless someone ordered a surprise re-painting of the lines.

The Flash did a few unpalatable things to reach the final, abetted by a referee who either didn’t see or didn’t care about some of the jiu-jitsu Western New York employed to slow down the Thorns. Coach Paul Riley probably didn’t plan to be sent off, but his efforts to work the refs were certainly not in vain. And we could argue that it’s unfair for the Flash to be in the playoffs in the first place given Seattle’s much tougher schedule.

But long throw-ins are simply something all teams have to defend. The Washington Spirit surely will be aware of the danger when they face the Flash in the final.