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. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma

    News

    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  2. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  3. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  4. Facebook to release Russia ads to Congress amid pressure

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators.

  5. Editorial: Pinellas Construction Licensing Board should be abolished

    Editorials

    There are essentially two facts that need to be understood about the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board: It is a one-of-a-kind agency in Florida without any accountability to the state or the county. And to be kind, for years it was run haphazardly as an independent fiefdom, with missing financial records, …

    The only way to restore faith and sanity to the process is to abolish the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and follow the lead of Hillsborough and other counties that utilize building departments and law enforcement to regulate contractors.