Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sporting News: Solich to Fight DUI Conviction

The Sporting News is reporting that former Husker and current Ohio University coach Frank Solich has filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea for driving under the influence. This follows a widely circulated e-mail from Solich's son-in-law Jon Dalton that indicated that testing had confirmed that Solich was under the influence of GHB the night he was arrested. When the e-mail first came out two months ago, the source of the e-mail was unverified, nor were there details that substantiated the allegation. In April, news reports in Athens verified that the e-mail did indeed come from the Solich family.

So is Solich innocent? Well, this new evidence does seem to cast reasonable doubt as to his guilt. Hair evidence isolated Solich's exposure to November 26, 2006, the date of his arrest. At Solich's arrest, there was no Breathalyzer test so there is no evidence regarding Solich's blood alcohol level. The police officers observed that Solich was incapacitated behind the wheel, which could be the result of either alcohol or GHB.

Many folks question the legitimacy of this evidence after so long, which is natural. However, unlike on CSI, obtaining this scientific evidence takes time to develop. Some feel that Solich's quick plea is an admission of guilt, though one also needs to remember that Solich's job was on the line. Ohio University is fighting a reputation as a "party school" and University leaders seriously considered firing Solich immediately. The "no contest" plea was likely part of the deal to allow Solich to keep his job.

Solich is taking a risk in reopening this case; he opens himself up to more ridicule and embarassment if his motion is denied, or if he is subsequently found guilty. Furthermore, if he were to be found guilty in a trial, the punishment might end up being more severe for fighting the charge. It will be interesting to see how this develops.


Hosh said...

Wouldn't he still be guilty of DUI? I realize it wouldn't be looked upon as negatively.

Husker Mike said...

That's a legal issue that the judge will have to evaluate. Under Ohio law refusing to take a breathalyzer test automatically makes you guilty of DUI, so I wonder if the judge has any room to rule that Solich was "involutarily incapacitated". I would assume that Solich's attorney feels confident in this, otherwise why rehash this story?