Montana Judge Cannot Resentence Stacey Rambold

After the outcry that resulted from Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh sentencing convicted rapist Stacey Rambold to 30 days in prison (and making several disrespectful remarks in the process), the judge first issued an apology and then took steps to extend Rambold's sentence for raping his then 14-year-old student, saying the 30 days may be shorter than the mandatory minimum.

This realization seems like something the judge should have thought of before issuing Rambold's short sentence — and the Montana Supreme Court agrees. The Court ordered Baugh to cancel a Friday resentencing hearing for Rambold, saying he does not have the authority to reconsider the sentence he gave the former Billings teacher.

"In this court's opinion, imposing a sentence which suspends more than the mandatory minimum would be an illegal sentence," Baugh wrote in his order.

Apparently, what happened was prosecutors did not seek the mandatory minimum after the defense counsel asked for the lower sentence. And Baugh didn't think of it, and then wanted a redo. It's not happening — at least not for now, and not on his terms.

The Attorney General's Office has appealed the Rambold case to the Supreme Court, with prosecutors asserting Rambold must serve at least two years in prison. Rambold's defense lawyer says the sentence was appropriate and can only be undone by on appeal.

Rambold was initially sentenced to 15 years of jail time for raping Cherice Moralez, a student of his who later committed suicide right before the teacher's trial was scheduled to begin. However, Baugh suspended all but 30 days of the sentence, saying Moralez was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold and that the 14-year-old was “older than her chronological age” when the rape took place. (Baugh later issued a brief apology for his offensive remarks.)