published Friday, April 18th, 2014

Rutherford County judges won't hear mosque cemetery lawsuit

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Court records show that circuit judges in Rutherford County have recused themselves from hearing a lawsuit over a mosque cemetery.

A group of residents filed the suit after county officials approve a request form the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro that sought a permit for the cemetery.

Chancellor Robert Corlew II stepped down last month at the request of mosque attorney John Green.

The Daily News Journal reports that since then all the county's circuit judges who are eligible to hear the case also have recused themselves. They include Mark Rogers, Keith Siskin, David Bragg and Royce Taylor.

"So far there has not been a judge selected," Green said during a phone interview Wednesday with the newspaper. "My guess is that a senior judge might be appointed by the Administrative Office of the Courts."

The plaintiffs, led by Bonnie Golczynski, cited concerns about possible water contamination and traffic in their lawsuit.

According to a statement in the court record, archaeologist Dan S. Allen says the site is a known karst area and may not have enough soil to adequately cover remains.

The county says it followed policies and procedures in granting approval for the cemetery and is asking that the suit be dismissed.

"The actions of the defendant were appropriate and lawful and were not in any way arbitrary, capricious, illegal, or improper," according to the county's motion asking for a dismissal. "Wherefore, having fully answered the petition, defendant prays the court dismiss the petition in its entirety and assess all costs and expenses against the petitioners."

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