Friday, February 23, 2007

The lawsuit brought by James Policastro against the Islamic Society of Boston and the City of Boston for the City's conveyance of a parcel of land at a massively discounted price for the construction of a large mosque in exchange for glass beads and the privilege of being proselytized...has been dismissed.

Here is the message from Jessica Masse, the "ISB Interfaith Coordinator," as sent out on the Muslim American Society email list:

Asalamu-aleikum all,

I have wonderful news for all of you. Today, the ISB won the decision in the law suit brought against the ISB, Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Roxbury Community College by James Policastro and others in 2004. We issued the following press release, and I've attached the judge's decision for all who are interested. Congratulations and thanks to all who have stood by the ISB during this case. The defamation and civil rights case is still in litigation (and we remain willing to participate in mediation), but this victory of justice is an important step in putting these suits behind us and refocusing on our true mission, which is serving our community and all of you.

Salam, and God bless,

Jessica Masse
ISB Interfaith Coordinator


The Islamic Society of Boston is pleased to announce that today a Massachusetts superior court judge has ruled that the lawsuit brought against the Islamic Society of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Roxbury Community College is without merit and has been dismissed. The Court ruled that the lawsuit was improperly brought by the plaintiff James Policastro and stated that if Mr. Policastro had any legitimate issue with the project, he should have participated in the multi-year public process which led to the project's approval.

"We are very pleased that the Court put an end to the legal campaign against the Islamic Society of Boston, which is part of a greater effort by those seeking to oppose area Muslims from building a place of worship.

Part of Mr. Policastro's suit demanded that the ISB return the land and the Mosque be torn down. Now this threat is gone. It is full steam ahead now - we will see our Mosque built to completion." said Jessica Masse, the ISB's inter-faith coordinator. "Even with this latest legal victory, the ISB remains committed to resolving all outstanding disputes, including the civil rights and defamation claims it has brought against the David Project and others through a mediation process which promotes reconciliation."

Judge's decision (PDF)

Update: Miss Kelly comments on the decision, here.


If you read the decision, the reason it was thrown out has nothing to do with the merits of the case. Indeed, the judge took great pains to say he had standing, and cause. What he was missing was time. His filing came too late. 16 months was outside of the window for a challenge. It needed to occur with 30 days of the sale.

Make sure you get that this lawsuit failed from being filed too late, not from its merits. ISB won't tell you that, but it is plain as day in the text. They may call this legal "victory" as they "won", but they didn't "win" on the merits. They "won" due to the fact that the lawsuit was filed late.

The ISB didn't "lose" on the merits either. So what's your point kranky? That James Policastro is ignorant of the law and wasted everyone's time with a frivolous lawsuit?

JLA, I think you're being a bit harsh. Kranky did mention that the judge took pains to say that the anti-ISB suit had merit.

It's true that the ISB didn't lose, either. But Kranky's point still stands: The fact that the suit against the ISB was thrown out is no reflection of its validity.

And Kranky raises an interesting point, that it was thrown out on a technicality, something that the ISB announcement doesn't mention

The judge's decision also points out that the BRA carried out a nine-year public meeting and comment process before selling this land to the ISB in May 2003, and that Policastro did not involve himself in that process at all while it was going on.

Why didn't he object to the sale before it happened, and why did he wait until September 2004 to file this lawsuit?

Good questions, Ron, but I don't think it changes Kranky's basic point.


Since the ISB did not lose, your analysis is non sequitur. ISB won precisely because a person with standing who filed the suit failed to file it within a mandatory time frame. That is, whether you agree that this was good or bad for this particular case, a good thing in general, in terms of time limiting actions against entities. The suit was not frivolous at all, and again, the judge would have correctly indicated if it had lacked merit. Since the judge indicated that cause for the suit did in fact exist, it is rather hard to call this frivolous, or at least to call it frivolous with a straight face.

The suit failed not due to a technicality of process, but because a time limit to bring action expired. It did not fail due to failed demonstration of cause, or merit of the action. ISB did not win on the merits. It would be more correct to say that ISB did not lose this case. Its win comes entirely from an expired time limit for filing actions.

Ron: you raise a good point. Why did he wait? I suspect (no direct knowledge, just a guess) that he learned of it and launched the suit then. I don't know if he represented himself. I would suspect that a competent attorney would have advised him against the suit on the failure to file within the statutes limits. As for the 9 year public comment period, I am not sure I got that from my reading of this. Also, knowing quite well that politicos love to bury things that they think will cause erosion of their support in lengthy meetings and processes, it would not surprise me to hear that it was "engineered" to be in "plain sight".

That is more of an ethical slight of hand than anything else.

But the basic facts of the case do remain, and questions remain unanswered. The merits have not been addressed, and as tax payers, I am sure none of us would like to see the constituted authorities offer sweetheart deals to any one group without extending the same offer to all others. Thats your and my money that is being stolen, not necessarily by the ISB, but by the politicos doing the sale.

The ISB simply took advantage of the situation. Once people realized what was happening (not all government is transparent, despite their "best efforts") they took action. But it was too late.

That seems to be the most plausible theory.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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