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Donald J. Boucher v. the State of Wyoming

November 20, 2012

DONALD J. BOUCHER, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Michael K. Davis, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kite, Chief Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN*fn1 , HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] After this Court affirmed his six sexual assault convictions in Boucher v. State, 2011 WY 2, 245 P.3d 342 (Wyo. 2011), Donald J. Boucher filed two motions for sentence reduction, one through counsel and one pro se. The district court denied the pro se motion without mentioning counsel's motion. Mr. Boucher appeals, claiming the district court erred as a matter of law when it denied his motion without considering his change of circumstances. We find no error and affirm the district court's order.

ISSUE

[¶2] Mr. Boucher asserts the district court erred in denying his motions for sentence reduction. The State asserts the district court properly exercised its discretion and denied the motions upon finding the sentence fair and just.

FACTS

[¶3] After a jury convicted Mr. Boucher on six felony charges involving sexual assault, the district court sentenced him to consecutive prison sentences totaling 30 to 50 years. Mr. Boucher appealed the convictions to this Court and we affirmed. Boucher, id. Mr. Boucher timely filed motions for sentence reduction, one through counsel and one pro se. In the first motion, he asserted sentence reduction was appropriate based upon his rehabilitation efforts. In his second motion, he asserted it was appropriate not only because of his rehabilitation efforts, but also because he was going blind in both eyes and his condition could be reversed only if he was not incarcerated and able to seek outside medical attention.

[¶4] The district court denied the pro se motion without a hearing. The order does not mention the motion filed by counsel; however, that motion was based on Mr. Boucher's rehabilitation efforts which he also raised in his pro se motion. Therefore, in denying the pro se motion the district court effectively ruled on the motion filed by counsel and we treat the latter motion as having been denied.

[¶5] In denying Mr. Boucher's motions, the district court considered the following factors: the benefit of finality for the victims; the sentencing court's task "to impose the fairest sentence possible in the first instance" and to reduce a sentence when in retrospect it appears the sentence was not in fact fair, or has become unfair due to unanticipated circumstances; its determination that the sentence imposed in this case was fair and just and imposed only after considering appropriate factors; and Mr. Boucher's motion contained no new information persuading it to reduce the original sentence. Mr. Boucher timely appealed the district court's order denying the motions.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶6] The denial of a motion for sentence reduction is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Eckdahl v. State, 2011 WY 152, ¶ 16, 264 P.3d 22, 27 (Wyo. 2011). The district court's decision is given considerable deference unless no rational basis exists for its conclusion. Mack v. State, 7 P.3d 899, 900 (Wyo. 2000). To the extent we are asked to determine whether a court applied the correct rule of law, our review is de novo. Baker v. State, 2011 WY 123, ¶ 10, 260 P.3d 268, 271 (Wyo. 2011).

DISCUSSION

[¶7] Mr. Boucher contends the district court applied the wrong legal standard in considering his motions for sentence reduction. He asserts the district court incorrectly perceived it was precluded from reducing the sentence if it was "fair and just" at the time it was imposed. Mr. Boucher argues that addressing his motions from this perspective effectively denied him the review to which he is entitled. He contends the district court "frankly admitted it did not take [his] successful rehabilitation or any of the developments since incarceration into account." He further asserts the district court relied on factors it should not have in denying his motions. Specifically, Mr. Boucher argues the district court erred in considering the victims' interest in finality and the powers of the governor and parole board to alter prison sentences.

[ΒΆ8] The State asserts Mr. Boucher misconstrues the district court's ruling. Contrary to Mr. Boucher's interpretation, the State asserts the district court did not find that it could not reduce a fair and just sentence; rather, the district court found that it would not do so under the circumstances presented in this case. The State maintains that the district court properly considered the evidence Mr. Boucher submitted and was not persuaded to ...


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