Tomorrow morning (February 12, 2016), David Yerushalmi, Senior Counsel at the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), will present oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is located in Washington, D.C., on behalf of several former clients of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), including Muslim clients, who were the victims of a massive fraud and cover-up perpetrated by CAIR.
Judge Paul Friedman, the federal district court judge who presided over this six-year old lawsuit which alleges that CAIR defrauded dozens of Muslim and non-Muslim clients, issued a shocking ruling when he summarily dismissed the case. The dismissal did not disclaim the fraud. Rather, the judge held that CAIR was not responsible for it. Yerushalmi will be arguing that the district court’s ruling was wrong as a matter of law, asking the D.C. Circuit to reverse and reinstate the claims against CAIR.
“The briefs we filed on behalf of our Muslim and African-American clients, all of whom were victims of CAIR’s fraud, demonstrate that the lower court’s ruling was both substantively and procedurally biased against our clients. We fully expect an emphatic reversal.”
CAIR, a self-described Muslim public interest law firm, was previously named as a Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas front group by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the federal criminal trial and conviction of a terrorist funding cell organized around one of the largest Muslim charities, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). HLF raised funds for violent jihad on behalf of Hamas, and top CAIR officials were part of the conspiracy. In addition, several of CAIR’s top executives have been convicted of terror-related crimes. As a result, the FBI publicly announced that it has terminated any outreach activities with the national organization, which bills itself as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.”
The two lawsuits dismissed by Judge Friedman, which were consolidated by the court because they arise out of the same facts, follow an earlier lawsuit that had also alleged that CAIR’s fraudulent conduct amounted to racketeering, a federal RICO crime. In that case, the court dismissed the RICO counts, concluding that CAIR’s conduct as alleged was fraudulent but not a technical violation of RICO.
The pending lawsuits allege that Morris Days, the “Resident Attorney” and “Manager for Civil Rights” at the now defunct CAIR-MD/VA chapter in Herndon, Virginia, was in fact not an attorney and that he failed to provide legal services for clients who came to CAIR for legal representation. As alleged, CAIR knew of this fraud and purposefully conspired with Days to keep the CAIR clients from discovering that their legal matters were being mishandled or not handled at all. Furthermore, the complaints allege that according to CAIR internal documents, there were hundreds of victims of the CAIR fraud scheme.
According to court documents, CAIR knew or should have known that Days was not a lawyer when it hired him. But, like many criminal organizations, things got worse when CAIR officials were confronted with clear evidence of Days’ fraudulent conduct. Rather than come clean and attempt to rectify past wrongs, CAIR conspired with its Virginia Chapter to conceal and further the fraud.
To this end, CAIR officials purposefully concealed the truth about Days from their clients, law enforcement, the Virginia and D.C. state bar associations, and the media. When CAIR did get irate calls from clients about Days’ failure to provide competent legal services, CAIR fraudulently deceived its clients about Days’ relationship to CAIR, suggesting he was never actually employed by CAIR, and even concealing the fact that CAIR had fired him once some of the victims began threatening to sue.
While Judge Friedman agreed that Days and CAIR’s Virginia chapter were liable for fraud, he concluded, after improperly weighing the evidence, that CAIR National in D.C., the named defendant in the lawsuit, was not responsible for Days’ fraudulent conduct.
“CAIR engaged in a massive criminal fraud in which literally hundreds of CAIR clients have been victimized. In his ruling, Judge Friedman inexplicably ignored material facts that establish CAIR National’s liability and then engaged in a transparently disingenuous ‘weighing’ of the factual evidence he did address, which is improper when evaluating cross-motions for summary judgment. During oral argument, I intend to highlight the legal and analytical infirmities of this patently incorrect decision.”