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. One of St. Petersburg's newest condo projects is sold out

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Reflecting the continued demand for condos in downtown St. Petersburg, The Salvador, completed earlier this year at 199 Dali Blvd., has sold out. Records show that a 2-bedroom, 2-bath unit sold Friday for $620,000 in an all-cash deal. Two other units — a 3-bedroom, 2-bath penthouse and a …

     Reflecting the continued demand for condos in downtown St. Petersburg, The Salvador, completed earlier this year at 199 Dali Blvd., has sold out. 
[Rendering courtesy of aalliiggnn LLC]
  2. Tedd Webb, co-host of top morning radio show, calling it quits after five decades

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — It's 9 Monday morning and Tedd Webb is exhausted.

    Radio personality Tedd Webb hopes to continue spending an hour each mid-day on the financial show The Opening Bell but he'll be stepping down from the top-rated morning show he co-hosts with Jack Harris. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]

  3. Pasco OKs higher fee for drainage work

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Trying to keep neighborhoods drier is going to cost Pasco County property owners some extra dollars.

    Commissioner Mike Wells Jr., who voted against a higher storm-water fee in February, supported the increase this time. "Bottom line: It's needed,'' he said.
  4. Florida Gators announce 2018 football schedule

    Blogs

    The Florida Gators announced their 2018 football schedule Tuesday, including an early SEC game against Kentucky and a matchup against Colorado State, which was part of coach Jim McElwain's buyout from the Rams.

  5. Directors of Haunted Mansion doc talk bringing piece of Disney history to Orlando

    Blogs

    Filmmakers Ryan Grulich and James H. Carter II aren't just casual fans of The Haunted Mansion ride. They're obsessed.

    Publicity still from the Foolish Mortals documentary.