CINCINNATI (CN) – Federal prosecutors argued before the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday to lengthen the prison sentence of the man who attacked U.S. Senator Rand Paul outside his Kentucky home two years ago.
Paul sustained several broken ribs and eventually developed pneumonia because of the November 2017 attack, which was spurred on by a pile of brush placed by the Republican senator near his neighbor’s property line in Bowling Green.
Rene Boucher pleaded guilty to a felony count of assaulting a member of Congress and was sentenced to 30 days in prison in June 2018, even though the charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Prosecutors sought 21 months of jail time for Boucher, arguing Wednesday in the Sixth Circuit that the eventual sentence of one month was far too lenient.
Attorney Bob Wood argued on behalf of the government, and focused on the lower court’s failure to consider the seriousness of Paul’s injuries.
Wood said the senator endured seven months of pain and suffering, and was hospitalized on several occasions because of the pneumonia he developed as a result of broken ribs.
“The seriousness of the offense is real,” the attorney told the three-judge panel.
Wood also said the district court erred when it considered Boucher’s history and lack of a criminal record, which he called “pretty ordinary.”
The attorney told the panel of judges he conducted extensive research on federal assault convictions with similar injuries, and found no sentences similar to the one handed down to Boucher, which he described as “95% below the guidelines.”
U.S. Circuit Judge Jane Stranch, a Barack Obama appointee, pointed out that Boucher’s sentence included a $10,000 fine and several years of probation, but Wood pressed on. He pointed out that not only is Boucher a doctor, but that the fine was the statutory minimum for the conviction.
Attorney Matt Baker of Bowling Green represented Boucher, who was in the courtroom in Cincinnati, and argued the sentence was not arbitrary or capricious.
“[This is] a garden variety assault case,” Baker said. “At the end of the day, this is a dispute over yard trash between neighbors.”
“The injury is not trivial,” U.S. Circuit Judge John Nalbandian interrupted.
Baker agreed, but pointed out that “the trial court is entitled to a lot of due deference” in sentencing matters.
Nalbandian, an appointee of President Donald Trump, told Baker he was concerned about the disparity between the sentencing guidelines and Boucher’s eventual sentence, and said the case could “become a benchmark.”
The attorney responded that the sentencing judge completed a thorough analysis of the trial transcript, and that her “ringside perspective” should not be discounted.
Like Wood before him, Baker also brought up Boucher’s history, but told the panel it was properly used to reduce his client’s sentence.
Baker also pointed out that several witnesses testified on Boucher’s behalf at his sentencing hearing.
Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Eugene Siler Jr. replied that notorious Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff could bring a number of witnesses to testify on his behalf, and said that “a lot of people have great backgrounds” before they commit their first crime.
No timetable has been set for the court’s decision.
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