Ohio judge tosses Amish bishop's request for reporter's unpublished notes

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A federal judge in Ohio has thrown out a subpoena request from Amish bishop Sam Mullet for an Associated Press reporter's unpublished notes from an interview with the bishop before he was convicted of federal hate crimes in connection with a series of beard-cuttings across Ohio Amish country.

The U.S. attorney's office used the Oct. 10, 2011 story, written by AP reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins, against Mr. Mullet and his 15 followers during the four-week trial in Cleveland. Prosecutors presented quotes from the interview as evidence that Mr. Mullet exhorted the others to cut the beard and hair of those who opposed his control over his church in rural Jefferson County, outside Steubenville.

In requesting a new trial, Mr. Mullet and his lawyer, Ed Bryan, said the government used the story out of context and subpoenaed the reporter's notes and tape recordings.

The government and the Associated Press objected. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster has sided with them, saying it's too late now for such a request.

He said Mr. Bryan knew about the interview long before trial and should have asked for the documents then.

"There is no excuse for [Mullet's] failure to request the documents before trial," he said, especially since the AP story was mentioned in the original indictment.

The judge also rejected a request by Mr. Mullet for a hearing on the issue.

Mr. Mullet and his followers will be sentenced in January.

breaking - region

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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