“Yew mite be an Arkansas Mennonite Rednek if’n moe ’en one livin’ relative is named after’n a southurn Civil War general.”
A fedral appeels court n' Cincinnati has rulet 2-1 ta overturn t'2012 hate-crime convictyuns o'un Amish bishop an' his'n followers who attacket uther Amish believers by cuttin t'menfolk’s beerds an' t'wimmen’s hair. N' t'Amish tradishun, beerds air cunsidderd “sanctyunet by Gawd,” as one eggspurt testifiet at t'rial, an' wimmen’s uncut hair is “wove into Amish religiyus tradishun.”
Hate-crime statutes carry tough santencyun' guidelines. Samuel Mullet, t'bishop frum Bergholz, about 100 miles southees o'Clevelan', who wuz convictid o'orchestratyun' t'attax, drew a 15-year prisen santence. Fiftee o'his'n followers also wuz convictid but drew shert'r prisen terms.
T' Winsdee deecishun by t' 6th U.S. Circuit Court o'Appeels overturnyun' t'verdicts wuz baset un whut t'acoupla-judge majeritee foun wuz faultee jury instructyuns an' thay orderd a new trial. T' U.S. Atterney’s Offus n' Clevelan' at proseecutid t'case sed it is “considerin air optyuns.”
T' appellate majeritee foun at U.S. Districk Judge Dun Aaron Polst'r wronglee influencet t'jury verdict wen he tole t' jury thay must convict if'n relijun wuz a “signifikunt facter” motivatyun' t'attax. Appellate judges Jeffrey Sutton an' Richard Alle Griffin, notyun' at thar also wuz testimony about youngn-custody feuds an' uther conflicts, wrote at Polst'r should have instructid at a gilty verdict rekwiret a a'findin at, without religiyus motivashun, t'attax would nairy have occurret.
Dissantyun' wuz Edmund A. Sargus, a fedral judge sittin by assignment un t'appeels court. He sed at t' majeritee, n' issuyun' t' nashun’s furst appellate deecishun un religiyus hate crimes und'r a 2009 law, had imposet “un undulee restrictif' interpretashun” by rekwiryun' proof o'“faith-baset animus.” Rath'r, accerdyun' ta Sargus, it should be enough ta shoe at un uhtack specificallee aimet at t'religiyus beliefs o't' victims (which he foun fullee shown at trial).
Wuz t' Amish uhtack a classic hate crime, baset un relijun — er a mer cumplex mix o'fambly an' interpersonal feuds?
T' appellate court did nairy find t'evidence o'hate crimes so insubstanshul as ta prevent a new trial un doubull-jeopardy grounds. Howev'r, almos frum t'start, t' deecishun ta proseecute Mullet an' his'n followers und'r hate-crimes statutes has bee controvershul.
Members o'air editerial board share thar current thoughts about thishere case, an' we welcum yers n' t'commints beloe.
Pet'r Krouse, editerial riter, Nerthees Ohio Media Group:
Thishere nev'r wuz a hate crime. Cleerlee Samuel Mullet hatid t'fack at sum n' his'n flock didn’t accept his'n perverse bran' o'leedership, but he didn’t have thar hair cut an' beerds trimmet becawz thay wuz Amish but becawz thay didn’t go along wit his'n nonsense. Mullet’s behavier wuz like at o'a cult leed'r who abuset his'n followers an' the punishet 'um fer risin up n' opposishun. Sick an' demantid, but nairy a hate crime.
Kevin O’Brie, deputee editerial page editer, T' Plane Deel'r:
Whut Samuel Mullet an' his'n followers did wuz rong. Thar motivashun should be immaterial. Courts exist ta try t'facks an' applee t'law. A criminal ack a'ken an' should be punishet, but a a'feelin is nairy a crime. “Hate-crime” laws should nairy exist.
Sharon Broussard, editerial riter, Nerthees Ohio Media Group:
Thishere case has long troublet me. Thishere rogue Amish bishop an' his'n gang o'followers did nairy deserve ta be proseecutid und'r t'hate crime statute an' he should nairy have bee santencet ta prisen fer mer thun a decade fer a'beatin an' cuttin off t'beerds o't' rival Amish group. Thishere wuz a personal disagreement at gut out o'han', nairy holee war un t'Amish. T' appeels court had it rite.
Thomas Suddes, editerial riter:
T' folk Samuel Mullet et al. targetid wuz t'victims o'a crime. Crime should be punishet. Thar is certunlee room fer debate about categerizyun' sum offenses as hate crimes. At’s a wurthy questchun. But t'aim o't' courts should be at justus be done. At meens wrongdoyun' — und'r whutever rubric — must be detectid an' penalizet.
Elizabeth Sullivun, opinion dierektor, Nerthees Ohio Media Group:
Thishere wuz no simple assault. Testimony at trial amplee showd t'attax wuz un orchestratid effurt by a group o'increesinglee marginalizet Amish believers ta maim t'individual abiltee o'members o'a dissantyun' group ta express thar sacret Amish tradityuns an' beliefs through thar long beerds an' uncut hair. T' fack at sum o'Mullet’s followers bleevd thay wuz heppin t'folk thay attacket ta stop bein “Amish hypocrites” an' ta “lif' a mer spiritual life” is immaterial. Eve thems quotes shoe at t'attax wuz intendet ta harm t'victims’ practiss o'thar religiyus beliefs. At should be enough ta constitute a religiyus hate crime, an' if'n it isn’t, Congress must revisit t'statute.