The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a lower court, Monday, to revisit a 30-day jail sentence meted out to a man who attacked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), fracturing six of the senator’s ribs and causing him long-term health complications.
The Washington Post reports that the Sixth Circuit panel defied tradition and requested that the trial court re-sentence Rene Boucher, who attacked Paul from behind back in 2017, allegedly over a disagreement about Paul’s gardening habits. According to documents filed with the trial court, Boucher ran 60 yards at full speed towards Paul and launched himself at Paul’s midsection, tackling the senator from behind. Neighbors claim that Boucher was angry that Paul had blown “all of the leaves from his property into Boucher’s yard.”
The assault ended an ongoing dispute over the senator’s yard maintenance which had been brewing for several years, according to Boucher’s testimony. Boucher claimed that he’d simply “had enough” of Paul’s lackadaisical lawn care. He denied having any political motivation for the attack.
At the time, Paul was hesitant to make a big deal out of the attack, seemingly preferring to keep the incident quiet and handle Boucher’s subsequent arrest and conviction with a measure of tact. But after Boucher received a mere 30 days in jail and a $10,000 fine for one count of attacking a sitting Member of Congress — a federal offense — in a plea deal, prosecutors appealed the sentence, claiming it was simply too lenient to meet sentencing guidelines for Boucher’s crime.
“The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, noted that the guidelines call for 21 to 27 months for the federal crime of assaulting a member of Congress and that Paul’s injuries, including six broken ribs, were serious. Prosecutors had asked for a 21-month sentence,” the Washington Post reported.
The trial court judge — a Clinton appointee — defied sentencing guidelines because she felt Boucher was an asset to the community, and his status as an “educated person” (a physician like Paul) with two grown children “doing very well,” justified keeping him out of jail even though the attack was both a federal crime and physically devastating to Paul.
The Sixth Circuit blasted her rationale as favoring the well-off, noting that “[t]o prioritize a defendant’s education, professional success, and standing in the community [gives a] leg up to defendants who are already in a privileged position.”
“Indigent defendants are less likely to impress a sentencing court with their education, employment record, or local reputation,” the court continued, deciding that the information at hand did not provide a “compelling justification” for letting Boucher off easy, particularly in light of Paul’s injuries.
Rand Paul has continued to suffer as a result of the attack, which cracked six of his ribs and left him in serious, chronic pain. Back in early August, Paul had surgery to remove part of his lung, damaged in the attack. He spent most of the August congressional recess recovering from the procedure.
In addition to the criminal proceedings, Paul also sued Boucher in civil court and was awarded $58,000 to cover medical costs incurred as a result of the attack.