DuPage court schedule set for Irshad suit
Site for proposed Islamic worship center. | Sun-Times Media graphic
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:03AM
WHEATON — Arguments will resume six weeks from now in the lawsuit accusing DuPage County of religious bias against a local Islamic organization.
Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois set the next two court dates in a status hearing Monday morning in Chicago. The case was brought by the Irshad Learning Center, which in January 2010 came up short in its attempt to secure a conditional use permit for an Islamic worship center in a former day care center on 75th Street just east of Naperville.
Representatives for both sides last week submitted paperwork seeking to have the case bypass a full jury trial.
“Basically both sides filed motions for summary judgment, and responses to each other’s filings are due on Oct. 1,” said Paul Darrah, spokesman for DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin.
The attorneys will appear before Pallmeyer twice in October.
“The court set a briefing schedule of October 1st for the parties’ responses to the motions and October 22nd for replies in support of the motions,” Kevin Vodak, litigation director for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wrote in an email to The Sun.
The Irshad board, made up of Naperville and Lisle residents, initially named in the federal complaint all of the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals members, along with the 10 County Board representatives who voted against the permit. Pallmeyer dismissed the individual defendants in March 2011, granting them “absolute quasi-judicial immunity,” but denied the county’s request to drop the case.
Among the seven who voted to allow the permit were all three County Board members who represent District 5, where the Irshad property is located. Jim Healy, one of the three, said at the time that he had decided to vote in favor of the permit after discussing the matter with fellow attorneys.
“This thing is going to go to court now,” Healy said just after the board vote. “I haven’t talked to a single attorney who does this kind of work who didn’t think this was a slam-dunk (for Irshad).”
A second Muslim organization, the Islamic Center of the Western Suburbs, also has taken the county to court after its request for a permit was turned down. The Aug. 3 complaint alleges, as the Irshad suit did, that the county violated provisions of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 when it refused to grant the clearance. In the more recent case, the site was an abandoned home on Army Trail Road near West Chicago.