State Steps In On Rambold Case - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

State Steps In On Rambold Case

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BILLINGS -

The State will now step in on the sentencing of Stacey Rambold by Judge G. Todd Baugh.

The sentence handed down by the Yellowstone County Judge in the rape case drew national attention. Judge Baugh ordered Stacey Rambold, the former Billings Senior High Teacher who admitted having sexual contact with a 14-year-old student, to 31 days in prison for breaking terms of his plea agreement.

Tuesday, Judge Baugh said the sentence he imposed may have been illegal. But Wednesday, the State of Montana issued an appeal on Baugh's sentence in the Rambold case. According to Montana code and a precedent setting case, a district judge cannot have a re-sentencing hearing to correct an illegal sentence.

"Baugh's decision on the sentencing that he handed down is outside the mandatory minimums for this particular crime. And so technically, his sentence is illegal," says Paul Pope, Assistant Professor of Public Law and Public Administration at MSU-Billings.

Judge Baugh said Rambold's sentencing memorandum cited 31 days as the mandatory minimum amount of jail time. But after reviewing Montana code, Buagh said the minimum is actually two years.

"As a result, Montana Code also requires a process to take place to address or fix this problem with the sentence. He can't just simply go, oh I want to change it. He has to go through the process and that's what Montana is essentially forcing him to go through," said Pope.

The State requested Judge Baugh suspend the hearing set for Friday in order for the State to appeal. And while Pope says the error could have come from a number of places, Baugh should have known the legal minimum amount to sentence on day one of the trial.

"He probably shouldn't have accepted things on face value. He should have done his due diligence and known the law before he handed down this sentence," said Pope, who believes national outrage likely plays a role in the case. "All the national news coverage is likely going to put the pressure, of course, on the political element in this case from the state level. That's probably pushing some of the state's actions."

The prosecution stands by its original recommendation of 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended. KULR-8 reached out to Baugh to see if he will continue with the re-sentencing hearing regardless of the State's recommendation, but Baugh was not available for comment.

 

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