Attorneys representing Westchester and ineligible player Amir Johnson have
filed appeals to the California Interscholastic Federation state office
in a last-ditch attempt to overturn City Section sanctions against the
school's state-champion boys' basketball team.
The sanctions include Westchester's being banned from the playoffs
A ruling by the state office is expected before the regular season ends
Feb. 13, attorneys said. The City Section playoff pairings are to be determined
the following day.
"We understand that the state CIF office will be able to turn this
around quickly enough to provide us with meaningful relief should they
rule in our favor," said Lamar Baker, an attorney for the Santa Monica
firm of Strumwasser and Woocher, which is representing Westchester.
Baker said he is working on the appeal pro bono. Michael Strumwasser, a
partner in the law firm, is a Westchester graduate.
Charles McLurkin, an attorney representing Johnson, said he is "looking
to have a decision from the CIF no later than Wednesday."
A City Section rules committee banned Westchester from the playoffs for
one year because an assistant coach allegedly recruited Johnson, a 6-foot-9
junior center, from Los Angeles Verbum Dei last summer.
Johnson was banned from practice and interscholastic play for one year
for allegedly giving false testimony at a Dec. 16 hearing, and Westchester
assistant coach Marlon Morton was barred from coaching at any City Section
school for one year.
Johnson and Morton have denied the allegations, which are largely based
on eyewitness testimony from two Verbum Dei administrators.
The sanctions were upheld by a City Section appeals panel after a hearing Jan. 16.
Westchester (20-2), the two-time defending state Division I champion, is
ranked No. 1 in the Southland by The Times.