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. Trump's lawyers seek to undercut Mueller's Russia investigation

    Politics

    Some of President Donald Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar …

    President Donald Trump is said to be irritated by the notion that the special counsel's investigation could reach into his and his family's finances. [Associated Press]
  2. North Tampa shooting leaves one man dead

    Crime

    Times staff

    TAMPA — A man was fatally shot Thursday afternoon after an argument with another man escalated, police said.

  3. St. Pete City Council tightens building rules in historic areas

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — There's a battle being waged over the soul of the city's historic neighborhoods.

    A new larger home sits next to a smaller one in the Kenwood neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.