The New Mexico Activities Association is attempting to move Clovis High School varsity basketball coach J.D. Isler’s case to federal court in Albuquerque.
In a notice filed Jan. 5, NMAA attorneys requested the case be moved from state court to U.S. District Court, citing Isler’s position that his constitutional rights had been violated.
The request has been placed on the federal court docket, although no hearing date has been set.
Isler, who is accused of recruiting players, was suspended by the NMAA in mid-December. The school notified Isler he would be fired from his coaching job.
District Judge Teddy Hartley issued a temporary restraining order Dec. 18 against Clovis schools and the NMAA. The order reinstated Isler as coach of the Wildcats varsity boys team, stopping his termination and suspension.
Hartley said the temporary order would remain in force until a second hearing could be held to determine if the schools and NMAA were within their rights to suspend and terminate Isler.
In seeking the change of jurisdiction, the NMAA contends Isler invoked federal law by petitioning in state district court that his constitutional rights had been violated — namely his right to due process was violated and referring to the NMAA’s rule against undue influence as “unconstitutionally vague.”
“This court has federal jurisdiction, due to petitioner’s (Isler’s) allegations of violation of his constitutional Due Process rights, as set forth in the United States Constitution,” the notice said.
Isler’s attorney, Warren Frost, said he intends to argue against the change in courts. Frost said he wants the case to remain in state district court.
Frost added, “It doesn’t matter to us whether we’re in state court or in federal court, they don’t have a case. Jerry Isler didn’t do anything wrong.”
Frost said he has obtained a copy of NMAA’s investigative report and said it points to two meetings Isler had with senior Lathan Lieb and his father Todd Lieb to discuss Lathan’s move from Dora High School to Clovis.
“(The investigative report) sets forth everything we’ve said in our complaint. ... Their main focus is these two meetings and that he shouldn’t have been meeting with the kid. If that’s their position, then they need to create a rule,” Frost said.
The NMAA, in response to a Freedom of Information request from the CNJ, has promised to release its investigative report no later than Wednesday.
Prior to the case being transferred, Hartley had set a hearing for 10 a.m. Tuesday to consider motions filed New year’s eve in district court by attorneys for Clovis Municipal Schools.
School attorneys argue Hartley exceeded his authority by issuing a temporary restraining order allowing Isler to continue coaching.
In their motion, lawyers for the school asked Hartley to dissolve the temporary restraining order and demanded any order be extended no longer than 20 days.