Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge issues opinion in Islamic law case

TAMPA — A Hillsborough judge under withering attack from conservatives for saying he will use Islamic law to decide if an arbitration award was correct apparently wants to explain himself.

Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen took the unusual step of issuing an opinion Tuesday even though the 2nd District Court of Appeal has stayed proceedings in a lawsuit against the Islamic Education Center of Tampa filed by four ousted trustees.

The opinion does not add anything that isn't already in the court file nor does it make any finding of law. But Nielsen appears to take great pains to explain the reasoning behind his controversial decision.

The issue involves whether an arbitration award in the case by an Islamic scholar, called an a'lim, was proper. The a'lim ruled Dec. 28 that the mosque's ex-trustees were ousted improperly, a decision that, if it sticks, might wrest control of $2.2 million from the center's current leaders.

The mosque got the money from the state after it used some of the mosque's land for a road project.

"From the outset of learning of the purported arbitration award, the court's concern has been whether there were ecclesiastical principles for dispute resolution involved that would compel the court to adopt the arbitration decision without considering state law," Tuesday's opinion said.

"The court has concluded that as to the question of enforceability of the arbitrator's award the case should proceed under ecclesiastical Islamic law," the judge wrote.

The judge noted in his opinion that he must hear further testimony to determine whether "Islamic dispute resolution procedures have been followed in this matter."

Nielsen's assistant said Tuesday the judge would not comment on pending litigation.

The judge's March 3 ruling saying he would use Islamic law, known as sharia, to decide the arbitration issue was quickly appealed by the mosque's attorney to the 2nd DCA. The mosque argues that state law should decide the issue and to inject religion into the case violates the U.S. Constitution.

The mosque's attorney, Paul Thanasides, also wants to take deposition testimony from the a'lim, who lives in Texas.

In an irony probably not lost on some of the litigants, the a'lim's attorney has filed a motion with a Texas judge to prevent Thanasides from deposing the a'lim.

What does the attorney think bars testimony by an arbitrator?

Texas law.

William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3432.

On the Web

To read the judge's

decision, go to

links.tampabay.com.

Judge issues opinion in Islamic law case 03/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    Tampa's Super again. Or at least it will be soon.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  2. Spacewalking astronauts pull off urgent repairs at International Space Station (w/video)

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL — Spacewalking astronauts completed urgent repairs at the International Space Station on Tuesday, replacing equipment that failed three days earlier and restoring a backup for a vital data-relay system.

    In this NASA provided frame from video, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer works to install antennas at the International Space Station while astronaut Peggy Whitson, not pictured, works on repairs Tuesday, May 23, 2017. [NASA via AP]
  3. Forecast: Severe storms, gusty winds for Tampa Bay as cold front arrives Wednesday

    Weather

    Muggy and dry conditions will prevail across the Tampa Bay region ahead of a cold front that could produce gusty winds and potentially severe storms late Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. For starters: Rays vs. Angels, with Cobb leading the way

    Blogs

    Rays veteran RHP Alex Cobb had a lot to say Monday about the team needing to focus on getting past .500 and building a winning record.

    And after the disappointing 3-2 loss that …

    Alex Cobb will start tonight when the Rays play the Angels.
  5. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, a prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]