Federal Court Rules Rand Paul Attacker’s 30-Day Sentence Too Lenient

The Sixth Circuit ruled the light sentence was 'substantively unreasonable'

Sen. Rand Paul / Getty

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the 30-day prison sentence of the man who attacked Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.), ruling that federal guidelines did not permit so lenient a sentence.

In 2017, Paul was tackled from behind by his next-door neighbor Rene Boucher over a mundane disagreement about lawn clippings. Paul was left with six broken ribs and a substantial hospital stay that forced him to take a leave of absence from the Senate. Paul testified that he suffered constant "intense pain" as a result of his injuries, and later required further surgery in August 2019.

Boucher was originally charged with misdemeanor assault under Kentucky law, but the state charges were dropped in lieu of a federal felony prosecution. Boucher could have received up to 10 years in prison for an assault of a member of Congress that inflicted personal injury, but prosecutors sought 21 to 27 months in light of his acceptance of responsibility.

District Court judge Marianne O. Battani instead sentenced Boucher to only 30 days, arguing that Boucher had an "excellent background," was "an educated person," and "participated in the community in [his medical] practice and in [his] church." The Clinton-appointed judge also cited the character witnesses who testified on Boucher's behalf, including his pastor and the developer of his gated community.

Prosecutors appealed the case, arguing that the light sentence was "substantively unreasonable" compared with similar cases. The Sixth Circuit agreed Monday, noting that Congress specifically instructed courts not to give undue weight to class and education when sentencing defendants.

"To prioritize a defendant's education, professional success, and standing in the community would give an additional leg up to defendants who are already in a privileged position," wrote Obama appointee Jane Stranch for a three-judge panel. "Indigent defendants are less likely to impress a sentencing court with their education, employment record, or local reputation. But they are no less deserving of a reasonable and compassionate sentence."

The judges concluded there was "no compelling justification for Boucher's well-below-Guidelines sentence" and vacated the lower court's ruling. The court remanded the case back to district court, where Boucher will be resentenced based on the ruling.