Note: You can read my previous piece, The State (of Washington Versus) Hope Solo, to get some context.
It appears that the four-year saga of the Hope Solo domestic violence criminal case is about to come to an end. Reports are surfacing that the City of Kirkland prosecutors will move to dismiss this matter, if it hasn’t happened already. From the report:
Attorney Melissa Osman, who represents the city, wrote in court documents the circumstances of the case were “unlikely to recur,” and prosecution witnesses did not want to testify.
“The City witnesses in this case have indicated a desire to move forward with their lives after the 2014 incident and no longer wish to be involved in a criminal trial,” Osman wrote in the court documents.
Huh. Forgive me if this doesn’t seem like a bit of CYA by the Kirkland prosecutors, though maybe it is a change of heart and I’m being a bit cynical. Anyway, it appears the documentation has been filed with the Supreme Court of Washington, and the case has been taken off the docket for oral argument.
In my previous piece, I questioned why this matter was still even being pursued.
…I’ll say this about the case: I’ll be surprised if this matter ever goes to trial, whether it’s dismissed at this stage or not. I’m a former prosecutor in the Pierce County Domestic Violence division, and I did public defense work for years involving domestic violence cases. I still take the occasional DV case. This isn’t a domestic violence case in the way we usually think about it (though it legally qualifies for sure). It doesn’t involve intimate partners or a scorned paramour. Or even parents and children, for that matter. It amounts to, if you give Solo’s account any credence, a family brawl. And maybe not even that.
I don’t write that to pat myself on the back (that’s merely a side benefit, ‘natch), but to reiterate: it never made any sense that this matter was still winding its way through the court. And the Kirkland Prosecutor’s claim that the witnesses “no longer wish to be involved…” may be true, but that was the case back in 2014/2015 when this matter was still fresh. They had to be dragged in for depositions on numerous occasions, refused to answer questions, *destroyed* potentially exculpatory evidence, and were generally pains in the ass.
At most, this seemed like a family fight that most prosecutors would have thrown their hands up at and walked away from years ago. Again, this case has been going on for four years. The prosecutors could have dismissed this case at any point along the line. They could have reached a “side-deal” with Solo, wherein she agreed to do some community service in exchange for a quiet dismissal. But they pursued this case at every step along the way. I don’t know what actually changed, but we’re finally at the end of the line, it seems.
On the legal front, that means we won’t get any closure on the underlying issues of prosecutorial misconduct, and whether that was a basis for a dismissal of the charges in the first place. This case was set for oral arguments on May 31, and I was planning on heading down to Olympia to observe them. It’s too bad I won’t get to, but much like the sad family tale that sparked this case, perhaps it’s better at this point to just walk away and move on.
I’ve long since given up trying to figure out the motivations of the witnesses. At times, they seemed eager to proceed but balked at this and that.
All of which makes me wonder why Solo’s legal team insisted on appealing the reinstatement of the case all the way to the state Supreme Court. They lost every round, and no one has explained to me the legal reasoning that would lead them to believe they’d be successful this time. The case on which they were waiting (a drunk driving case with a similar issue with witnesses — not Solo’s family in this case but another issue, IIRC) was resolved, and not the way Solo’s legal team needed.
I can’t help feeling that if Solo’s lawyers had simply said, “OK, fine, let’s go to trial,” they might have smashed the case to bits in a courtroom three years ago.
So why didn’t they?
Trial is always a risk, and DV convictions are some of the nastiest charges that can go on your record. In some ways, they are worse than DUI and certain felonies.