Amish Beard-Cutting Case

Judge denies Samuel Mullet’s request for access to reporter’s notes

A federal judge has denied a request by Samuel Mullet to issue a subpoena for the unpublished notes of a reporter in an attempt to overturn his October 20 conviction for hate crimes.

“If the defendant thought for some reason the documents were relevant to the trial — if he thought there was something in the interview that should have been offered at trial — then he should have requested the documents then,” wrote U.S. District Judge Judge Aaron Polster.

Samuel Mullet’s defense attorney, Edward Bryan, had requested the subpoena for the unpublished notes of Associated Press (AP) reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins. Prosecutors cited from the published AP story in their trial against Mullet as evidence that the Amish breakaway sect leader encouraged his followers to forcibly cut the beards and hair of Amish men and women that did not subscribe to the tenets of his sect.

Mullet and 15 of his followers were convicted Oct. 20, 2012, of federal hate crimes stemming from the bear and hair cutting attacks, with sentencing scheduled for January 24.

The AP story, published October 10, 2011, quotes Mullet as saying he should be allowed to punish people in his sect that violate the laws of the church and that the hair-cutting attacks were a message to his fellow Amish that they should be ashamed of their behavior. Mullet’s lawyers contend that the interview was taken out of context.

“The First Amendment does not condition its guarantee of a free press on the press serving as a records repository for every government agent and private litigant with subpoena power,” wrote AP attorney David Marburger in his opposition to the subpoena request.

Ryan Kerns, Esq., Wild About Trial

Copyright 2012 Wild About Trial. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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