A lawyer for a former Buchanan High student who was kicked out of school after he executed a wrestling move called a "butt drag" argued Monday in a Fresno courtroom that his client didn't get a fair expulsion hearing.
Attorney Charles Magill made his pitch in Fresno County Superior Court in hopes of getting Preston Hill's expulsion overturned.
Clovis Unified School District expelled Hill in January. The Fresno County Board of Education later upheld the expulsion, prompting Magill to file a legal challenge.
In Judge Rosemary T. McGuire's courtroom Monday, Magill said Clovis Unified violated Hill's due process rights when they hired two attorneys from the same law firm -- Lozano Smith.
One attorney, Jerome Behrens, advised the expulsion hearing panel and the other attorney, Tom Manniello, prosecuted Hill for the school district, Magill said.
The panel is supposed to be independent, Magill said. Two attorneys from the same firm created an "inherent bias" against Hill, Magill said.
During Monday's hearing, attorney Frank Fekete, who represents Clovis Unified, and the judge challenged Magill to cite one due process violation. Magill said Behrens often overruled his objections to evidence that Manniello used against Hill.
In Clovis Unified's defense, Fekete said, both lawyers signed sworn statements that they did not talk privately about Hill's case. Fekete also said Magill had ample opportunity to introduce evidence on his client's behalf and cross-examine witnesses, including Hill's accuser, during the 11-hour expulsion hearing.
McGuire said she will rule on Magill's petition within a few weeks.
Hill, then 17, said he was doing a legitimate wrestling move on a freshman teammate when he grabbed the teammate's butt cheek in July 2010. The teammate, however, told Clovis police and school officials that Hill sexually assaulted him in an attempt to humiliate and bully him.
Magill said Hill is going to college and continues to wrestle.