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.