Thursday, November 13, 2008

No Liberty Interest

Not a legal profession case, but an interesting decision from the West Virginia Supreme Court reversed a trial court judgment that declared unconstitutional the procedure to challenge the decision of the referee of a high school basketball game calling a second technical foul and ejecting a player. The player then had laid hands on the ref. The physical contact led to an additional suspension. The court declared:

Not only do we find it unwise to proceed down the path suggested by the trial court _ inviting courts to review an official's judgment call in assessing technical fouls _ but the foundational underpinnings upon which the trial court based its rulings on the issue of due process are fatally flawed. In making its ruling, the lower court overlooked this Court's recognition over twenty years ago that “[p]articipation in interscholastic athletics or other nonacademic extracurricular activities does not rise to the level of a constitutionally protected 'property' or 'liberty' interest.'” Bailey v. Truby, 174 W.Va. 8, 21, 321 S.E.2d 302, 316 (1984) (quoting Clarke v. Board of Regents, 166 W.Va. 702, 279 S.E.2d 169 (1975)). Because there is no property or liberty interest that attaches to extracurricular activities, “procedural due process protections” do not apply. Truby, 174 W.Va. at 21, 321 S.E.2d at 316.

The player had sought and been granted an injunction against the suspension. He is not your everyday high school basketball player, as he currently is playing in the NBA. (Mike Frisch)

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