Sam Mullet was sentenced in 2013 to 15 years in prison for orchestrating beard and hair-cutting attacks on Amish.

Sam Mullet

Mullet later saw his sentence reduced to a little under 11 years.

If you missed the story at the time, Mullet was the bishop of a breakaway Amish group which began following decidedly un-Amish practices, detailed in the book Renegade Amish.

These included attacks by Mullet’s followers on five victims which involved forcible beard cutting. Some victims were family members of the perpetrators.

Mullet generated so much fear among the Amish, that some requested he be sentenced to life in prison.

Mullet and his followers were convicted in 2012 of charges including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and hate crimes.

Now Mullet would like to be released early, arguing that errors committed by his lawyer potentially influenced the outcome.

His attorney has officially admitted to the errors. More details at

Mullet argues in a motion filed Friday that his former attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Ed Bryan, made a series of errors while representing him at his 2012 trial, and through two appeals. Had Bryan not committed the errors, Mullet’s trial may have ended differently, the motion says.

Bryan, who has worked as a federal defense attorney since 1997, admitted to these errors in an affidavit included in the motion.

This includes not arguing on Mullet’s second appeal that federal prosecutors were out of line in noting Mullet’s alleged sexual misconduct to the jury.

Mullet has a new legal representative now. He has asked to be released from prison while awaiting the outcome of his legal challenge.

Fifteen others involved were given varying sentences, all significantly shorter than Mullet’s. Mullet is the last of the group remaining in prison.

Does Mullet have a chance at early release? Appeals against the convictions have failed before, and in one case succeeded when the hate-crimes convictions were overturned (which is what led to the resentencing).

The article notes that overturning the remaining convictions (conspiracy, obstruction of justice, making a false statement to law enforcement) would be “a high bar to clear legally since Mullet has already lost an appeal.” The full motion is available to read here.

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