Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sterling, NBA Set For Epic Legal Fight Over Clippers

Michael McCann, Apr. 29, 2014,

In a historic announcement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has handed Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, along with issuing the maximum allowable fine of $2.5 million. Of greater significance, Silver has also instructed NBA owners to oust Sterling as owner of the team. The announcement sets the table for an epic legal fight over ownership of the Clippers and the powers of the commissioner.

Legality of Sterling's suspension and fine

Silver has broad authority under the NBA's constitution and bylaws to suspend and fine an owner for conduct detrimental to the NBA. According to Sliver, Sterling admitted it was his voice on the recording in which he made racist remarks. Even if the recording was unlawfully created under California law -- the recording would likely be unlawful if the conversation was confidential and Sterling didn't give consent -- Silver is authorized to punish Sterling based on the recording's impact on the league. It is safe to say that Sterling's comments, which elicited the rebuke of President Barack Obama, have deeply harmed the NBA and its relationship with players, sponsors and fans. Sterling seems to lack a viable argument that his conduct was not seriously detrimental to the NBA.

Sterling is also disadvantaged in challenging the suspension and fine because of how a court would treat such a challenge. A court would review Silver's decision under the deferential "arbitrary and capricious" standard of review. This standard would essentially require Sterling prove that the NBA -- and specifically Silver, acting as the NBA's ultimate arbiter -- failed to follow its own rules in how it investigated Sterling and punished him. For instance, if the NBA failed to authenticate the recording, concealed evidence or not requested a meeting with Sterling, Sterling might have sufficient grounds. Silver's remarks during the press conference, however, suggest all relevant rules and policies were followed. Absent Sterling proving there was a procedural defect of serious importance, Sterling likely has no viable appeal to either the fine or suspension.

ROSENERG: Lifetime ban fitting punishment for Sterling

As a practical effect, the suspension all but excommunicates Sterling from both his team and the NBA. He is forbidden from any contact with players, coaches and staff, and he is barred from attending games or practices. Sterling is also prohibited from participating in league activities. He is now, essentially, in NBA exile.

The fine of $2.5 million may seem inconsequential given that Sterling is worth reportedly $1.9 billion, but it was the highest amount of money permitted by the league's constitution and bylaws. Had Silver issued a higher fine, and justified it on policy or moral grounds, he would have provided Sterling with an opportunity to raise a legal point. Specifically, Sterling might have argued such a penalty is "arbitrary and capricious" because it would not have followed NBA rules. Silver, an attorney, wisely adhered to the rules instead.

Read the full story:

Follow Larry Elder on Twitter
"Like" Larry Elder on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Policy:

The author of this blog will attempt to engage in conversation via the comments section whenever possible and recognize the 24/7 nature of the internet. Moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular operational hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible, however admins and/or the author is unable to commit to replying to every comment posted.

This is a moderated blog. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, it is expected that participants will treat each other, as well as the author and admin, with respect. Comments that contain vulgar or abusive language; personal attacks of any kind will not be posted. Comments that are spam or that promote services or products will not be posted. It is requested that all comments remain on topic.

The Elder Statement blog does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. The Elder Statement blog may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. The Elder Statement blog does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those Web sites that may be reached through links on our Web site.

To protect individual privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include phone numbers, addresses or email details in the body of a comment. Such information will result in removal of a comment.

Thank you for your attention.

The Elder Statement