April 2011 Church & State | AU Bulletin

An Orthodox Jew has won a new trial after Maryland’s highest court ruled that a lower court erred when it denied his requests to suspend a trial so he could observe a religious holiday. Alexander Neustadter had argued he could not be in a court during two days of a medical malpractice trial because of his observance of Shavuot, the holiday marking the giving of the Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai. He had sued Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md., alleging negligent medical care of his father, who died in 2003. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 24 that the trial court “abused its discretion” by denying Neustadter’s requests for a two-day suspension. During those two days, the hospital presented its defense. The next day, the jury sided with the hospital in its verdict. “The court unreasonably juxtaposed the convenience of jurors, witnesses, and attorneys against (Neustadter’s) request for a religious accommodation,” the high court ruled in Neustadter v. Holy Cross Hospital. (RNS)