Last week, just a week before her trial was scheduled to begin today, Kirkland County Municipal Court Judge Michael Lambo dismissed the two counts of fourth-degree assault faced by Seattle Reign and United States Women's National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo. Solo had been accused of assaulting her nephew and half-sister.
I wrote in an earlier post about the challenges that Solo faced in having her charges dismissed. I will take this opportunity to speak briefly about how her attorney smartly challenged the victim's stories, and how that led to their dismissal.
Solo's attorney asked the court's permission in November to depose the alleged victims after they had refused to meet him with a court reporter present. The trial court allowed this.
Allowing the defense to interview the victims before trial, while not uncommon, is not a matter of right for criminal defendants. Under Washington Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 4.6, a criminal trial court may order a deposition when a witness may not be able to testify, when a witness refuses to cooperate with both the prosecution and the defense, or when the defense shows good cause to conduct the interview.
In this case, Solo's attorney was able to convince the trial court that there was good cause to order the depositions. Over the next two months, Solo's half-sister and nephew continued to refuse to cooperate, missing scheduled depositions and refusing to answer questions.
In court, Solo's attorney said that they continuously evaded questions about her nephew's medical history, as well as what drugs he presently takes and those he was taking at the time of the alleged assault.
Judge Lambo declined to dismiss the charges against Solo during a hearing on January 6, giving the alleged victims one more opportunity to comply with the deposition order. They failed to do so, and Solo's attorney pressed for a dismissal last week, focusing on their failure to cooperate and their changing stories.
His argument was successful, and the charges were dismissed.
This case outlines nicely the importance of an experienced criminal defense attorney for those charged with domestic violence. These types of cases often become he-said, she-said affairs where it is difficult to truly know what occurred. If Solo's attorney had not pressed for a full interview with the alleged victims, then the factual discrepancies would have come out at trial. Who knows what a jury would have decided.
Solo's attorney smartly did not allow it to proceed to that point. If you have been accused of sexual assault in and around Seattle, do not hesitate to contact attorney Steve Karimi for a free consultation. His years of experience prosecuting and defending those accused of domestic violence gives him valuable insight into what areas to press to get results for his clients. Again, if you face a domestic violence charge, contact him today for a free consultation.