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 LOS ANGELES (AP) -Warren Ferguson, a judge for more than four decades who helped pave the way for teenage basketball players to join the NBA, has died. He was 87.
Ferguson died June 25 of congestive heart failure at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, said his son, Peter.
Ferguson was a federal judge in 1971 when he ruled in an antitrust case brought by Spencer Haywood, who wanted to sign with the Seattle SuperSonics. Ferguson declared illegal an NBA rule that forbade the signing of players until four years after they had completed high school. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Haywood's favor.
In another 1970s case, involving the Sony Betamax recorder, Ferguson ruled that VCR manufacturers were not liable for copyright infringement committed by people who used the machines to tape TV shows. His decision was reversed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but the case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled some personal copying of TV shows was legal.
Ferguson's judicial career began in 1959 on the Orange County Municipal Court in Anaheim. He was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court in 1961 and nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by President Johnson in 1966. President Carter nominated him to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1979 and he remained active until 1986.
``It was not a job to him, it was a calling,'' said Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who served with Ferguson on the 9th Circuit.
In addition to his son, Ferguson is survived by a daughter, Faye Ferguson, and four grandchildren.
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