A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments and rule on whether to uphold the 30-day prison sentence imposed on Rene Boucher for his 2017 tackle of his former neighbor, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green.
Boucher, a retired physician, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green to assaulting a member of Congress, accepting a plea agreement in which federal prosecutors would seek a 21-month sentence but Boucher was free to argue for a different penalty.
Boucher was sentenced last year by Special Judge Marianne Battani to serve 30 days and to pay a $10,000 fine.
He went on to serve 30 days at a federal penitentiary in Chicago.
The sentence was appealed by Special Prosecutor Bob Wood, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit will hear arguments from Wood and Boucher’s attorney, Matt Baker, on July 31 in Cincinnati.
In a brief filed with the federal appeals court, Wood asserts that the 30-day penalty is an unreasonable sentence for an attack on a senator and that Boucher “received a huge break” in comparison to other defendants convicted in federal court of assaulting elected officials.
Wood also argues that Paul’s injuries resulting from his being tackled outside his home were serious enough to warrant a longer sentence, saying in his brief that the assault was a “sneak attack.”
At a civil trial earlier this year, Paul testified that he sustained multiple rib fractures and contracted pneumonia following the assault, and also underwent surgery for a hernia.
Though Boucher was charged in state court with a misdemeanor count of fourth-degree assault, Wood argues Paul’s injuries would have elevated the charge to a felony count of second-degree assault, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“In other words, Boucher’s sentence under a general state assault law would likely have been higher than under a federal law aimed at protecting representative democracy,” Wood said in his brief. “Given the facts of this case, that is not reasonable.”
Baker’s brief filed with the federal appeals court offers a narrative of events that preceded the assault, noting the senator’s assembling piles of yard waste on his property near the line that he and Boucher shared, and how Boucher took it on himself to have the piles of debris removed, burning himself when he attempted to dispose of one pile by lighting it on fire the night before the tackle.
In multiple police interviews, Boucher insisted that his tackling of Paul was not politically motivated.
Baker argued that the 30-day sentence was appropriate in light of the circumstances surrounding the incident, including Boucher’s lack of criminal history and Battani’s finding that the tackle was an incident of aberrant behavior deviating from an otherwise law-abiding life.
“The government has agreed throughout that the incident in issue never had any political motivation whatsoever, and the trial court properly refused to turn this case into something that it clearly was not,” Baker said in his brief. “Any attempt to ascribe a political basis or reason for this incident is completely unfounded, and any comparison of other politically motivated cases is specious and without any factual or legal basis.”
Baker also argues that the government’s appeal of the sentence amounts to a request for a “mulligan” despite the terms of the plea agreement that allowed Boucher to present evidence in support of a lighter punishment than the 21 months sought by prosecutors.