A federal judge in Michigan has decided to allow a civil-rights claim against the city of Dearborn by four Christians arrested at the city’s Arab festival to move forward.
It was just days ago when WND reported that a Detroit judge had awarded some $100,000 in attorney’s fees in another case of a Christian who was arrested at the festival.
In that case, the city was told to pay the fees on behalf of Christian Pastor George Saieg, who had been arrested at the 2009 event. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen said his recommendation was for fees and costs totaling $103,401.96 to be awarded in the case that was handled by attorney Robert J. Muise.
Muise, at the time, was with the Thomas More Law Center, and the fees will go to that organization.
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Muise has since worked with attorney David Yerushalmi to form the American Freedom Law Center, a new law firm that fights for faith and freedom through litigation, public policy initiatives and other activities.
The ruling in the new case saw a federal judge deny Dearborn’s request to dismiss the civil rights action brought by four Christian missionaries who were arrested at the Arab International Festival in 2010.
The American Freedom Law Center said the four were arrested by Dearborn officers while speaking about their faith to Muslims.
The Christians spent the night in jail and were accused of “breaching the peace.” However, Muise won acquittals from a jury for all the defendants in a criminal trial.
After the trial, Muise, along with Yerushalmi, filed a 96-page civil rights lawsuit against the city, Mayor John B. O’Reilly, Chief of Police Ronald Haddad, 17 police officers and two executives from the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. The plaintiffs are Acts 17 Apologetics, Nabeel Qureshi, David Wood, Paul Rezkalla and Josh Hogg.
“The judge’s ruling today is a huge victory for these Christians,” Muise said. “It allows the civil rights claims for the most egregious constitutional violations to proceed against the city and its officials. AFLC is committed to ensuring that our Constitution and not Shariah law, which makes it a crime to preach the Gospel to Muslims, is the supreme law in this country.”
The city had argued that festival worker Roger Williams’ complaint to police about the Christians gave officers a reason to arrest them.
Muise and Yerushalmi, on behalf of the Christians, argued the ruling does not preclude the civil rights claims because it was based upon fabricated allegations, and the Christians did not have a full and fair opportunity to challenge the claims in the police reports prior to the ruling.
The federal judge agreed with the AFLC attorneys.
U.S. District Court Judge Stephen J. Murphy III stated, “It is a reasonable inference from their allegations that [city officials] knew Williams’ complaint was pretextual.”
The federal judge noted that “[t]he indirect evidence of this conspiracy that was developed in state court and is already a part of the record in this case – including the videos and the testimony given by [city police officers] at their trial – elevates [the Christians'] accusations above the threshold of plausibility. ”
The federal judge also said, “The [state] district judge appears to have presumed the police reports submitted were truthful, and staked his probable cause determination on that presumption. Plaintiffs had no opportunity to either cross-examine the officers or take the stand themselves to contest the reports.”
And he ruled, “Finally, the district court was inattentive to the effect plaintiffs’ claims of First Amendment protection might have on the probable cause determination. . . . The Sixth Circuit has warned on previous occasions that Michigan’s ‘breach of peace’ statute is prone to such abuse.”
“This case is a stunning example of the pernicious influence of stealth jihad and Shariah law in America. The city of Dearborn is now a serial violator of Christians’ constitutional rights and has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs defending its insidious conduct. Apparently, in Dearborn, where Shariah and jihad is advocated openly, it is a crime to preach the Christian gospel. AFLC is committed to stopping this attack on our Constitution. And the ruling today allows us to do just that,” said Yerushalmi.