Noel W. Sterett
Helping religious institutions and businesses navigate a variety of legal issues since 2007
Attorney Noel W. Sterett is a partner at Dalton & Tomich, overseeing the firm’s Illinois office. Since 2007, he has been helping religious institutions and businesses navigate a variety of legal issues, both in and out of court. His goal is to help his clients overcome the challenges that hinder them from focusing on their core objectives, whether that is advancing the noble mission of a religious institution or running a profitable business. A more detailed description of his business services can be found at dtbusinesslaw.com.
Noel has successfully litigated a variety of cases in both Illinois state courts and federal courts across the country— both at the trial and appellate levels. He also regularly assists clients with complex zoning and land use matters.
The core of his practice is devoted to “ensuring people are free to serve God and their neighbors in their communities and in the marketplace.” The Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is a particular area of focus for Noel. Enacted in 2000, the law protects religious assemblies and institutions from zoning and land use regulations that substantially interfere with their religious exercise. In addition to litigating religious land use cases across the country, Noel regularly advises religious groups on civil rights matters and how best to secure zoning for religious land uses. His insight into religious legal issues has been highlighted in publications including Church Law & Tax.
Prior to joining Dalton & Tomich in May 2018, Noel worked as an attorney and partner for Mauck & Baker, LLC in Chicago for 11 years. He is an allied attorney and member of the National Litigation Academy Honor Corps of the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Christian Legal Society.
Noel sits on the board ofCourtside Ministries, a prayer ministry that organizes volunteers from local churches to pray for people as they come in and out of courthouses across the country.
Noel is a graduate of Regent University’s School of Law in Virginia. He is a member in good standing and admitted to practice in the: State of Illinois (2007), United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2007), United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2012), United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2012), and United States Supreme Court (2018).
Noel resides in Rockford, Illinois with his wife and five children.
- Apostolic Church v. Borough of Pemberton, 10-cv-03609 (N.J. 2010)
- Harvest Market Missionary Ministries, v. Borough of Pine Hill, 11-cv-01179 (N.J. 2011)
- Iglesia Cristiana Renacer v. City of Lynn, 11-cv-11945 (Mass. 2011)
- No Limits Christian Ministries, Inc. v. City of Mountain Home, 11-cv-00255 (Idaho 2011)
- Teesdale v. City of Chicago, 792 F. Supp. 2d 978 (N.D.Ill. 2011)
- Harvest Covenant Church v. City of Milwaukee, 12-cv-00549 (E.D. Wisc. 2012)
- The Life Center, Inc. v. City of Elgin, 13-cv-2842 (N.D. Ill 2013)
- Lela, et. al. v. Board of Trustees, 14-cv-05417 (N.D. Ill. 2014)
- Mount Zion Church of God in Christ v. Garden City, 14-cv-01361 (Kansas 2014)
- River Hills Community Church v. Village of Sauk City, 14-cv-00048 (W.D. Wisc. 2014)
- Liberty Baptist Church v. Crawford County, 15-cv-01130 (Kansas 2015)
- World Outreach Conference Center v. City of Chicago, 787 F.3d 839 (7th Cir. 2015)
- The King’s Tabernacle v. Town of Johnston, Rhode Island, 16-cv-00030 (Rhode Island 2016)
- Original Bible Church of Illinois v. City of Markham, 16-cv-11315 (N.D. Illinois 2016)
- New Life in Jesus Ministry v. City of Dothan, Alabama, 17-cv-00694 (Alabama 2017
- Church of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois, 913 F.3d 670 (7th Cir. 2019)
- City Walk – Urb. Mission Inc. v. Wakulla Cnty. Fla., 471 F. Supp. 3d 1268 (N.D. Fla. 2020)
- Church at Jackson v. Hinds Cnty., Mississippi, No. 3:21-CV-298-HTW-LGI, 2021 WL 4344886 (S.D. Miss. 2021)
- Pass-A-Grille Beach Community Church, Inc. v. City of St. Pete Beach, FL, 515 F. Supp.3d 1226 (M.D. Fla. 2021)
- Rojas v. Martell, 2020 IL App (2d) 190215
- Service Award, Alliance Defending Freedom, 2017
- Bronze Service Award, Alliance Defending Freedom
- National Litigation Academy Honor Corps, Alliance Defending Freedom
- 2014 Rising Star, Illinois Super Lawyers
- Illinois Super Lawyers list, 2015 and 2016
- Board Member, Rockford Rescue Mission
- Member, Christian Legal Society
- Allied Attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom
- Board Member, Courtside Ministries
- Advisory Council Member, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA)
- Member, Rockford Chamber of Commerce
- How a little-known federal land use law could help combat antisemitism in America (2021)
- Amicus curiae brief in support of the ministerial housing allowance in Gaylor v. Mnuchin (2018)
- Amicus curiae brief filed in the United States Supreme Court case of NIFLA v. Becerra on behalf of 23 Illinois pregnancy care centers.
- “Leveling the Playing Field: A Guide for Churches Navigating the Religious Land Use and Zoning Process,” with Daniel P. Dalton, May 2018
- Noel has had many speaking engagements, including:
- “Modern Shifts in Religious Liberty Law,” University of Chicago Federalist Society, November 17, 2021
- “Protecting Religious Freedom Through Federal Land Use Laws,” Christian Legal Society National Conference, October 30, 2021
- “Employer Vaccine Mandates and Religious Exemption Requests,” Winnebago County Bar Association, October 20, 2021
- “Religious Land Use Litigation Since 2000,” ABA Midyear Meeting, Houston 2015
- “When Civil Liberties and Zoning Powers Collide,” Christian Legal Society
- “Resolving Church Property Disputes: Past, Present, and Future,” Christian Legal Society National Conference, October 2022
- Court Rules in Favor of Nurse Who Was Fired Because She’s Pro-Life
- Illinois court rules in favor of Catholic nurse who lost job over abortion objections
- Church Law & Tax, Challenging the Clergy Housing Allowance, March 16, 2019
- Bold Church Initiative, Navigating Zoning and Land Use Laws, October 15, 2018