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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Here's the story from Boston's Jewish Advocate concerning the promised appeal of the judge's dismissal of the lawsuit regarding the City of Boston and its land sale to the Islamic Society of Boston for the construction of their mega-mosque (see: Breaking: Lawsuit Dismissed Against Islamic Society of Boston and Islamic Society of Boston: Happy to have friends...).

By Kristin Erekson

Following the dismissal of a lawsuit that questioned the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s discounted sale of a parcel of land to the Islamic Society of Boston, a local attorney representing the plaintiff in the case is poised to file an appeal.

Samuel Perkins of the law firm Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten, LLP in Boston said he will challenge Suffolk Superior Court Judge Sandra L. Hamlin’s decision made on Feb. 16. The judge’s decision declared that James C. Policastro of Mission Hill did not have legal standing to contest the sale because he did not file his lawsuit within 30 days of the transaction.

Policastro, who believes that the land deal violated the constitutional separation between church and state, filed his suit on Sept. 28, 2004 – more than 16 months after the BRA sold the property to the ISB. While reports showed that the land had been appraised at more than $400,000, the Muslim society – who intends to build New England’s largest mosque and cultural center on the site – paid only $175,000 for the 45,000-square-foot parcel and later spent an additional $43,820 to make improvements.

Perkins said that his client should have been given the court’s customary three-year period to challenge the sale because he was disputing the authority’s decision on constitutional grounds.
“I think it’s a great shame that [the ruling] was limited to conventional, administrative appeal,” Perkins added. “The law is clear that the statute of limitations for constitutional claims shouldn’t be shoehorned into an administrative process. We think the appeals court will agree with us.”

A related suit filed by Boston-based Israel advocacy group The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership is currently before the court, in which the nonprofit is aiming to get the BRA to release all documents related to the land deal. Policastro and The David Project have worked together, according to Perkins, to “discuss the right approach to shedding light on the BRA’s behavior.” Jeffrey Robbins, the attorney for The David Project, said he did not know the details about dealings between the two parties.

Yet in a statement, the ISB’s Interfaith Coordinator Jessica Masse applauded Hamlin’s decision.

“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,” Masse said. “Part of Mr. Policastro’s suit demanded that the ISB return the land and the mosque be torn down. That threat is gone. It is full steam ahead now – we will see our mosque built to completion.”


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