« Spotlighting the impact and import of rural realities in modern mass incarceration | Main | "The 'New' District Court Activism in Criminal Justice Reform" »

January 22, 2018

You be the federal judge: what sentence for Senator Rand Paul's attacker?

As regular readers know, I enjoy following up news of a high-profile conviction by asking what sentence readers think fitting for the high-profile convicted offender.  As detailed in this local article, report, headlined "Rand Paul’s attacker should get 21 months in prison, prosecutors recommend," the case today is high-profile because of the victim (and some motive uncertainty). Here are the latest crime and punishment details:

Federal prosecutors will recommend a sentence of 21 months in prison for the neighbor charged with tackling and injuring U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, according to a court document. The document, posted Monday, also makes clear that the attack was not politically motivated.

Paul’s neighbor, Rene Boucher, told police he attacked Paul because he’d “had enough” after seeing the Republican senator stack more brush on a pile near Boucher’s yard, according to the plea agreement Boucher signed.

Boucher’s attorney, Matthew Baker of Bowling Green, has said he will argue that Boucher should not be put behind bars for the attack on Paul.

The plea deal also envisions that Boucher will make restitution to Paul, who was seriously injured.

Boucher, a 58-year-old retired anesthesiologist, and Paul have lived next to each other for years in an upscale subdivision in Bowling Green, but have reportedly had differences of opinion over property maintenance. Boucher is “very meticulous” about yard maintenance, while Paul “takes a different approach,” Baker told the Herald-Leader last week. “It just became … a point of frustration that boiled over,” Baker said....

Boucher’s plea agreement says Paul was mowing his yard — while wearing headphones for hearing protection — when Boucher saw Paul stacking more brush on an existing pile and lost his temper. Boucher “executed a running tackle” of Paul on Paul’s property, the plea agreement said.

Paul did not see Boucher coming until the last second and was “unable to brace for the impact,” the plea document said. Paul suffered several broken ribs and had to be treated for pneumonia which developed as a result of his injuries....

No date has been set for Boucher to formally plead guilty or be sentenced. The charge against him carries a top sentence of 10 years.

Long-time readers know that Senator Paul has long been an advocate for federal sentencing reforms especially for nonviolent drug offenders; in this case, Senator Paul the victim of a violent crime and perhaps the kind he thinks ought to carry some prison time.  Notably, in this 2013 op-ed, Senator Paul explained his opposition to mandatory minimum drug sentences due in part to the risk they create for federal offenders having "their lives ruined for a simple mistake or minor lapse of judgment."   Arguably Boucher's "running tackle" was just a minor lapse, albeit one that seemingly cause some significant harm to Senator Paul. 

Thanks the the federal Crime Victims' Rights Act, Senator Paul has a "right to be reasonably heard" at Boucher's sentencing and it will be interesting to see if Senator Paul exercises this right and whether he might be inclined to urge any particular sentence.  I surmise that the plea agreement filed today provides that federal prosecutors will seek a sentence of 21 months (likely pursuant to the aggravated assault guideline) while the defense will seek a sentence of probation.  It will be interesting to see what the probation office may end up recommending, and in the meantime I am eager to hear in the comments from various readers:

What sentence would you give to Rene Boucher for his assault on Senator Rand Paul?

January 22, 2018 at 08:44 PM | Permalink

Comments

Five years.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 22, 2018 9:21:13 PM

Probation with a term of community service. Though the neighbor was reckless with his conduct, it seems doubtful that he intended to cause the man a set of broken ribs.

Posted by: Brandy | Jan 22, 2018 9:24:22 PM

Delicious. Doctor supports sentencing reform as a Senator. So another doctor attacks him for clippings from the lawn. The Senator suffers agonizing injuries. I have called for all reformers to provide the home address so that vicious predators may be moved to the houses surrounding theirs. Providence delivered the whole package that day. Good job, providence.

Does the defendant have obsessive compulsive disorder? He should be sentenced to treatment alone. Any prison time will discriminate against the disabled.

Attacking and disabling any politician for a short time is a benefit to the nation. The defendant should be rewarded, not punished. And to really inflict unbearable pain on a pro-criminal politician scum, merits a medal.

I know what the medical licensing board will say. That was not an act of medicine, and the defendant did not have a doctor-patient relationship with the victim. The medical malpractice carrier will claim the same. If the Board seeks to investigate or question the conviction, the defendant should sue them for second guessing a crime not relevant to the practice of medicine. If he has OCD, he should sue them for violating the ADAAAAAAAA.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 22, 2018 9:49:25 PM

The defendant is an anesthesiologist. His life's work is to prevent pain. He inflicts unspeakable pain on his doctor victim. Providence was working overtime that day.

I hope,

1) Rand's doctor was slow to prescribe opiates, being concerned about his becoming a potential addict;

2) his insurance company denied the prescription, and required a pre-authorization;

3) it refused to pay for opiates, and said, he should try Tylenol Extra Strength before they will allow opiates;

4) Rand has to go to the street for heroin, after his doctor says, I gave you 2 weeks of opiates. I cannot give you more, because of DEA intimidation;

5) Rand holds hearings on the crimes against humanity committed by the Harvard U. radicalized lawyer led DEA.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 22, 2018 10:12:42 PM

Restitution + Probation.

Posted by: James | Jan 23, 2018 9:02:00 AM

Let me pose a somewhat different question, Professor, if you don't mind. Federal prosecutors charged this fellow with attacking a member of Congress. The documents suggest the attack was based on landscaping disagreements rather than anything having to do with Senator Paul's position in Congress. Should a man who acts horribly because of his neighbor's lawn clippings be subject to a federal charge because his neighbor happens to be a United States senator? It would be one thing, of course, if the neighbor attacked Senator Paul because of something the senator did legislatively, but that apparently is not the case.

Posted by: Publius | Jan 23, 2018 10:18:36 AM

I would sentence the Doctor to restitution (including reimbursing the insurance company and significant payments for pain and suffering), probation with mandated anger management (more as an annoyance) and unpaid community service using his medical skills.

Since the defendant is retired I wonder if he has a current license to practice medicine.

IANAL I r an Architect.

Posted by: rsteinmetz | Jan 23, 2018 12:04:26 PM

I've prosecuted hundreds of assault cases. Here, the assault was intentional, even if the extent of the inurjuries was not foreseen by defendant. That's the chance you take when you blindside someone that way it was done here. Paul was seriously injured. At least 6 months in the slammer (county jail). three years probation on condition of anger management, community service, full restitution for all damgages, and letter of apology.

Posted by: Dave from Iowa | Jan 23, 2018 12:35:22 PM

Dave. Can you address the battery of a federal official, but not in the course of carrying out any official function? This is the problem with the mens rea. It is supernatural and violates the Establishment Clause. It is a loophole from the analysis of mortal sin in the catechism. It is irrelevant to the damage, should the same act with the same damage be immunized by a mental state requiring mind reading?

Even the Medieval Church attributed the analysis of the mens rea to an all knowing God upon arrival in heaven. They did not believe that man could read minds. Only the modern lawyer profession still does.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 23, 2018 5:38:20 PM

It should be a state level charge not federal, good gravy. ProbTion and fine him $2500 for meducal bills.

Anger management classes, should beca misdemeaner.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jan 23, 2018 9:44:58 PM

Hey Publius: your reasonable question could arguably also arise for any and every local drug transaction or illegal gun possession case that the feds have decided to make the basis of federal charges largely because they can, not because there is obviously a sharp federal interest implicated in the case. In 1980 there were fewer than 1000 federal gun prosecutions, now there are more than 10,000.

Posted by: Doug B | Jan 23, 2018 9:56:43 PM

So, if a federal appellate court judge is attacked on the golf course for cutting in or for rudeness, one can get a ticket, probation, and anger management. If one attacks him during a trial one can get 8 years in federal prison. Good to know.

On the other hand, one may claim, that a registered Democrat used landscaping debris as a pretext for policy disagreement. His attack was "on account of" Rand's federal job. Once you start reading minds, the possibilities are endless.

Ticket or 8 years. The mental state as read by the prosecutor decides.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 24, 2018 8:00:32 AM

Professor, I think my point is perhaps different than the one you've answered. My point is that it really only makes sense to ratchet up the punishment for attacking a senator if the reason for the attack is that status. Otherwise, we're making senators and other members of Congress somehow elite rather than simply protecting them from harm occasioned by their public service. Consider a slightly different scenario in which a random person was walking by Senator Paul's house and had no idea that the man clearing brush and wearing headphones was a senator. Say the walker takes offense that the guy clearing brush has the volume so high the music can be heard all the way down the street, and the music is Menudo. So the walker assaults the brush clearer. Should that be charged as this case was?

Posted by: Publius | Jan 24, 2018 9:14:46 AM

Smoking a doobie, or any crime that doesn't involve the violation of another person's life, liberty, or property shouldn't ruin your life. Potentially maiming or worse with a physical assault is quite another. Jailtime, buddy.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Jan 28, 2018 1:10:00 AM

Clearly jail time is called for. But what about afterwards? I don't think he should be allowed to live near Sen. Paul. But can a judge require someone to move? Sex offender precedent suggests they can.

Maybe 9 months with a requirement that he sell his current property and move at least 5 miles away. If possible, the judge should order that he not be released until suitable arrangements (for the sale and move) are made.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Jan 28, 2018 9:26:31 AM

I am a professor of medicine, not law. This crime was committed by a man in his 50's against his neighbor, who he certainly knows to be a prominent physician and senator. I am grossly offended by the fact that the perpetrator of this unprovoked violent assault is supposedly an educated man. The injuries sustained, multiple rib fractures, indicate excessive force. Multiple rib fractures can result in a whole host of serious complications, including a collapsed lung, pulmonary contusion leading to difficulty supplying adequate oxygen to the blood, internal bleeding, respiratory failure, and death. Mr. Boucher is fortunate that he is not on trial for murder. This is clearly not a case of a couple of young men brawling while intoxicated. This behavior is completely inexcusable.

Significant jail time is justified given several factors. The attack was supposedly provoked by aesthetic considerations related to landscaping, hardly anything near reasonable justification. The attack was from behind, so that the victim could not possibly defend himself. The forces involved were significant as they led to multiple rib fractures, something that would more typically be seen in a high speed motor vehicle accident. The victim suffered injuries and severe pain that typically require approximately two months to resolve. The prosecutor is on the right track with the recommendation for 21 months in jail. Maybe that jail time could be reduced to a shorter duration, but clearly jail time is necessary given the serious nature of the crime.

Posted by: Mark Silberman | May 13, 2018 11:34:30 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB