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John R. Mitchell, Thompson Hine LLP, Cleveland, OH won a reversal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on convictions of 16 defendants accused of cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women in violation of the federal hate crimes statute, a law that prohibits assaults perpetrated “because of” the victims’ religion. The case, known as the “Amish Beard-Trimming Case,” garnered national attention.

John represented one of the defendants pro bono. In reviewing the convictions, the Sixth Circuit held that the trial court improperly instructed the jury that “because of” meant the victims’ religion must be a “significant factor” motivating the assaults. This was inaccurate, and the appeals court held that the defendants’ proposed instruction that “because of” means the victims’ religion must be a “but for” cause of the assaults was the correct statement of the law. The Sixth Circuit wrote: “All roads lead to the same conclusion: For an assault to be a federal hate crime, the victim’s protected characteristic must be a but-for cause behind the defendant’s decision to act.” The Court remanded the case for further proceedings.

Congratulations, John!


Do you have a triumph to share? Send a brief summary and a recent photograph to David Fuqua at dfuqua@fc-lawyers.com


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