WASHINGTON (CN) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network is not liable to former clients referred to an unlicensed attorney, a federal judge found.
The allegations arose from two federal complaints in 2010 that said the group's now-defunct Virginia branch employed an unlicensed attorney to represent clients on everything from divorce proceedings to wrongful-termination complaints.
Believing the council's alleged claims that this man, Morris Days, was an effective lawyer, the plaintiffs said they paid legal fees directly to him.
They said Days nevertheless failed to diligently pursue their legal claims.
"In essence, the plaintiffs seem to claim only that, in their view, CAIR owed them a meaningful response in the wake of the revelation of Days' wrongful conduct," Friedman wrote. "But this claim presumes an answer to the central disputed issue in these matters, which is whether CAIR actually bears responsibility for Days' conduct."
The original complaints said CAIR clients of Days discovered that he was both unlicensed and had not attended law school.
CAIR allegedly covered up the scandal by claiming Days did not work for it directly, and instead served as an independent contractor of the group.
The clients said CAIR knew about Days, but waited months to fire him after the complaints against him became more vocal and threatening.
Judge Friedman's ruling says the record is on CAIR's side as far as showing that its "public representations regarding Days could not have led the plaintiffs to reasonably believe that Days worked for CAIR, nor that the plaintiffs justifiably relied on such a belief."
According to the ruling, Days has since died and CAIR-VA has disbanded.
CAIR holds itself as "American's largest Muslim civil liberties group."
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