Court decision allows ex-Iowa's Pierce, on probation, to play in France

Updated: September 23, 2008, 7:59 PM ET
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa -- A ruling that allows former Iowa basketball player Pierre Pierce to leave the state to play professionally in France was met with disapproval by the Iowa attorney general.

In a filing late Tuesday afternoon, the attorney general's office asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling, "given the extraordinary issues presented by this case and because one member of the three judge panel dissented from the ... order."

Bob Brammer, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said his office had no comment beyond the filing. Pierce's attorney, Alfredo Parrish, could not be immediately reached for comment on the request for reconsideration.

Earlier Tuesday, a three judge panel of the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a Dallas County District Court ruling that Pierce could travel to France.

The court had previously granted the attorney general's request to stay the lower court's ruling.

The attorney general has argued that there is no law allowing someone on probation to complete their sentence in another country. The attorney general said it would make it difficult to monitor Pierce's behavior.

Parrish, disagreed in an 11-page brief filed with the court on Monday.

"The question is not whether statutory authority exists that authorizes the district court to transfer supervision of a probationer to a foreign country; rather, the question is whether statutory law prohibits the district court from allowing a probationer to travel to a foreign country while supervision will be maintained," Parrish wrote in the brief.

Parrish claims there are few restrictions dealing with probation.

Reached after the three-member panel's initial ruling on Tuesday, Parrish said he was relieved for his client and thought the decision was appropriate.

"It's been a long, hard battle," Parrish said. "This is the correct decision. I strongly believe it's the correct decision ... It'll be my hope that he'll be able to leave for France by the end of the week."

He said Pierce was "very relieved" when he heard the news.

"He's been practicing every day," Parrish said. "He's had a very rigid physical fitness program. He's had some adversity and made some mistakes and he's trying to move on and prove he can be a law abiding citizen."

Pierce has signed a $120,000 contract with a team in France's top professional basketball league. He is on probation for a January 2005 incident at the West Des Moines home of a former girlfriend. The charges resulted in his being kicked off the Iowa basketball team. At the time, Pierce was the third-leading scorer in the Big Ten. Pierce led the Hawkeyes with 16.1 points a game as a sophomore in 2003-04.

He pleaded guilty in August 2005 to third-degree burglary, false imprisonment, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and criminal trespass.

He served 11 months in prison at the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility before he was released in September 2006.

Pierce was sentenced in April to 30 days in jail for violating his probation while playing in an NBA summer league in Las Vegas.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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