The Montana judge who came under fire for the shocking 30 day prison sentence he imposed on a former teacher accused of raping a 14-year-old student, which ultimately led to the girl taking her own life, has reconsidered his decision.
Tuesday District Judge G. Todd Baugh said that “it appears state law requires a two year mandatory minimum sentence be handed down to Stacey Dean Rambold” a new hearing has been set for Friday, September 6, 2013.
Just last week Judge Baugh sentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison, suspending all but 31 days plus one day time served totaling out to an unthinkable 30 days prison sentence for his crime. He has already begun serving those 30 days at the Deer Lodge State Prison.
In a statement released by Judge Baugh he wrote, “In the court’s opinion, imposing a sentence which suspends more than the mandatory minimum would be an illegal sentence.”
State prosecutors say they had been considering filing an appeal of the initial 30 day sentence regarding the two year mandatory minimum requirement.
Judge Baugh may not have the authority to go through with the new sentence of two years he is seeking to impose, according to Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito. He says that state law in Montana requires that an illegal sentence has to be settled through the appeal process.
“I’ve done this a long time and I’m in an area I have not been in before,” said Twito.
The prosecutor of 16 years is worried the defendant may have the advantage in Friday’s hearing due to the law requirements. Twito plans to be in the courtroom for the hearing but said he is not sure how it will turn out.
If the sentence goes unchanged, the state attorney’s office plans to proceed with an appeal in which the appellate division of the Montana Attorney General’s office will make the final decision.
The judge who has been on the bench since being elected in 1984 and is up for re-election in 2014, was called to resign by hundreds of protestors outside the Yellowstone County Court House last week.
The victim’s mother, Auliea Hanlon, says she is very angry at the judge for remarks he made about her 14-year-old daughter. Women’s rights activists as well as elected officials have expressed their anger over the comments that were made. Judge Baugh said, “The teen seems much older than her chronological age” adding, “she was in just as much control of the situation.”
Baugh responded to the criticism by saying his comments about the young girl were “irrelevant” and did not play a role in his decision to impose such a light sentence.
The judge did issue an apology, but the hundreds of people calling for his resignation say an apology is simply not enough.