Jailed Amish buggy drivers appeal Kentucky conviction

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 13, 2012 6:28 PM
Jailed Amish buggy drivers appeal Kentucky conviction

(Reuters) - Seven Amish men jailed in Kentucky for refusing to put fluorescent orange safety triangles on their horse-drawn buggies have appealed their convictions, saying the requirement contradicts their religious beliefs, their lawyer said on Friday.

The men, in an appeal to the state Supreme Court, said they should not be required to display the reflective symbol because their beliefs "require them to avoid displays of loud colors," according to a brief filed on their behalf.

The seven were part of a group of nine members of the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish sect who were jailed in western Kentucky on Thursday for refusing to pay fines after they were convicted of breaking the state law.

All nine remained in custody on Friday, according to William Sharp, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing the seven in their appeal, which was filed on Thursday.

An additional member of the sect who was convicted and ordered jailed after failing to pay his fines will report for jail in Graves County, Kentucky, on Monday, Sharp said.

It is the second time in four months that Swartzentruber community members have been jailed in Graves County for refusing to pay fines.

In September, eight other members of the community were briefly jailed, and the ACLU said several other Kentucky counties have summoned Swartzentruber community members into court for driving buggies without the safety triangles.

The Swartzentrubers broke away from the mainstream Amish community in 1913. Other Amish groups in Kentucky do comply with the requirements to display the safety signs on the rear of their buggies.

The Swartzentrubers said in their appeal that they comply with the spirit, if not the letter, of the law by outfitting the rear of their buggies with 100 inches of silver reflective tape and by putting lanterns on the side of their vehicles at night.

According to AmishAmerica.com, the Swartzentrubers are one of the most conservative Amish groups, eschewing -- among other things -- indoor plumbing, hot water and virtually all technology.

(Reporting by James Kelleher; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)