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February 1, 2013

Interesting defense arguments for sentencing leniency in Amish beard-cutting case

As reported in this local article, which is headlined "Sam Mullet lawyer asks for leniency in sentencing in Amish beard-cutting case," some of the first sentencing materials are being filed in an unusual and high-profile federal sentencing case here in Ohio.  Here are some of the details:

Amish bishop Samuel Mullet could receive up to life in prison for orchestrating a series of violent beard-cutting attacks on his enemies, but his lawyer asked a federal judge Friday to treat the 67-year-old farmer far more leniently.

Defense attorney Edward Bryan recommended Mullet receive a prison sentence of 1-1/2 to two years, arguing that no one was kidnapped or hurt badly enough to warrant longer sentences.

Mullet and 15 of his family members and followers are scheduled to be sentenced next Friday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Reporters from across the country and from as far away as Europe are expected to document the international spectacle.

Although Mullet did not participate in the five hair- and beard-shearings in 2011, he was convicted of federal hate crimes for knowing about the assaults and failing to stop them from occurring. Witnesses likened the breakaway Amish sect to a cult that had turned its back on the religion's non-violent traditions.

To punish Mullet as if he were a mass-murderer would be unjust in light of the minimal harm the defendants caused their victims, Bryan said in a 35-page document submitted to U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster. Bryan denied that Mullet recruited the participants, ordered the attacks, or helped to plan them. "The purpose of the beard and hair cuttings was a symbolic gesture, which at most caused an emotional or psychological response," Bryan wrote. "But no victim suffered serious physical injury in the incidents," describing the wounds as nicks and bruises.

Bryan asked the judge to consider the "invisible" collateral punishment leveled against Mullet and the 18 families who reside in the rural Jefferson County enclave of Bergholz, located about 100 miles from Cleveland.

Mullet and eight other men are in jail awaiting sentencing, causing multiple hardships for their families and 49 children, Bryan said. The self-sustaining community is struggling to meet daily needs of food, heat and child care, he said. The women are being forced to chop wood, feed and care for the livestock, as well as to cook, wash and clean.

Meanwhile, the Bergholz residents have been ostracized by the other Amish communities, he said. A sign advertising a Bergholz store was recently ripped from its post. And Bergholz members have been taunted at the Holmes County auctions, he said. "The stigma that will be forever attached to this community for convictions of hate crimes cannot be overstated," Bryan wrote.

Federal prosecutors have not yet presented their sentencing requests to Polster. The deadline for filing the documents is Tuesday.

February 1, 2013 at 10:43 PM | Permalink


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I have brought up this same point without receiving any answer by the experts here.

An arsonist gets burned, and endures a year of agonizing treatment in a burn unit, leaving his face gone. Should this consequence of his crime get him any discount in sentencing if he is medically clear to return to prison?

A rape victim gouges out the eyes of her rapist, a stranger trying to kidnap her. He has no eyes as a consequence of his crime. (Victims are reminded there is nothing too disgusting to do to a criminal when fighting for your life, forget the vile pro-criminal feminist prosecutor temporarily, but you will face prosecution to protect the criminal, the client of the lawyer.) Any sentencing discount for this eyeless rapist?

A burglar slips and falls, breaks a knee on spilled oil on the basement steps of a house he is burglarizing. Any sentencing discount? In real life he should not be able to sue, because torts should not reward a crime, as a matter of proper policy. Can he sue the negligent homeowner?

These are certainly not mitigating circumstances. These are naturally punitive consequences of the crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 2, 2013 11:50:17 AM

Twenty years ago this would have been handled in the Amish Community. The fact that this was a federal prosecution should tell us something about the over reach of the justice department.

Posted by: beth | Feb 2, 2013 4:34:11 PM

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