Judge says Amish must follow codes, trial ahead

Judge says Amish must follow codes, trial ahead

MORRISTOWN, N.Y. – Members of an upstate New York Amish sect cannot claim that local building codes hinder their religion or give them special standing, a town judge has ruled.

Morristown Town Judge James Phillips Jr. said the cases against eight Amish men will now proceed to trial.

St. Lawrence County assistant public defender Steven Ballan filed motions in November seeking dismissal of building permit violation charges against the men on grounds of free religious exercise, lack of a speedy trial and in the “interest of justice.”

After nearly eight months , Phillips issued a written ruling last Friday denying Ballan’s request.

“The Amish desire `not to conform to this world’ must be reasonably and rationally tempered with required compliance to regulations imposed by a town and society in which they are citizens,” he wrote in the 10-page decision.

Ballan told The Watertown Daily Times that he would discuss the ruling with attorneys and representatives of national religious rights groups before deciding how to proceed.

The Amish men do not deny the charges.

They are part of the strict Swartzentruber sect and say requirements for smoke alarms and engineer-approved designs violate their religious tenet to oppose modernization. The sect has had zoning disputes with local authorities elsewhere in New York, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

– Source: Judge says Amish must follow codes, trial ahead, AP, via the Chicago Tribune, USA, July 29, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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July 30, 2008 News Summary

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This post was last updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 10:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)