Court vacates sentence for Rand Paul's neighbor, says it was too lenient

Court vacates sentence for Rand Paul's neighbor, says it was too lenient
© Greg Nash

A federal appeals court on Monday vacated a 30-day prison sentence for a neighbor of Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges McConnell discounts quick dismissal of Trump impeachment articles: 'We'll have to have a trial' GOP motions to subpoena whistleblower MORE (R-Ky.) who assaulted him in 2017, ruling it was overly lenient and ordering a resentencing.

In a 16-page opinion, Judge Jane B. Stranch of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, writes that the lower court where Rene Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress had “no compelling justification” for sentencing him far below federal guidelines.

“Federal defendants with a criminal history category of I [the lowest possible level] who were convicted of assault received an average sentence of 26 months’ imprisonment and a median sentence of 21 months,” the ruling states, citing data. “We therefore VACATE Boucher’s sentence and REMAND for resentencing.”

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The opinion offers examples of other 30-day sentences for assaulting members of Congress and notes that the damage paled in comparison to that of Boucher, who broke five of Paul’s ribs and caused injuries that later required part of Paul’s lung to be removed.

For example, in 1981, two defendants were each sentenced to 30 days for throwing eggs at a congressman without hitting him, while a third defendant was sentenced to 15 days for spitting on a senator at an airport, writes Stranch, an Obama appointee.

“These prison terms were similar to Boucher’s, but the offense conduct  was  quite  different—as the Government argues, ‘it is difficult to understand why a tackle resulting in long-term serious injuries warrants the same sentence as an egg toss or spit in the face,’” the ruling states.

However, the ruling adds that “while that is true, those three cases occurred roughly 40 years ago, before the Sentencing  Commission  or  the  Guidelines  even  existed. Their  age  and  limited  number  make them less helpful to our analysis.”

More recent cases involving assaults on federal officers involve significantly longer sentences, such as a 2015 sentence of 24 months for a defendant who pushed a door into the arm of a government doctor and a 2014 case in which the defendant was given 21 months for bloodying a customs officer’s nose and ear.

—Updated at 8:04 p.m.