Judge Paul Friedman, the federal judge presiding over a five-year old lawsuit alleging that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) defrauded dozens of Muslim and non-Muslim clients, issued a shocking ruling when he summarily dismissed the lawsuit, which was brought in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Late last week, the American Freedom Law Center and the Law Offices of David Yerushalmi filed a notice of appeal, setting the stage to ask the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse Judge Friedman and reinstate the plaintiffs’ claims against CAIR.
David Yerushalmi, lead counsel for the five plaintiffs in the two consolidated cases alleging that CAIR hired a fake lawyer who defrauded dozens if not hundreds of CAIR clients, responded to the court’s ruling:
“Judge Friedman sat on the parties’ motions for two years and then rendered a ruling that is so patently contrary to the facts and law that once we lay out our case to the appellate court, 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 subject to the recent ruling alleged 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 their 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 its chapter’s fraudulent conduct.
David Yerushalmi, who is also AFLC’s co-founder and senior legal counsel, remarked:
“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 — an action which is patently improper when evaluating cross-motions for summary judgment. In my 30 years of litigating cases before the federal courts, I have never read a decision so fraught with legal and analytical infirmities.”
Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel of AFLC, added,
“This ruling is yet another example of federal judges bending over backwards to the point of ignoring facts and disregarding legal standards in order to defend CAIR. It is inexplicable. Apparently, these judges have bought into the false Islamic victimhood narrative peddled by CAIR. Here, we have CAIR victimizing numerous innocent people, and yet it gets a pass in a court of law. This is unacceptable. We expect more from our judges. It will now be up to the appellate court to remedy this injustice.”