LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul never shies away from speaking his mind, but his attorneys are asking a Kentucky judge to make the Republican lawmaker's political beliefs off-limits at his upcoming trial against the neighbor who tackled him while he was doing yard work at his home.
That's fine with the neighbor's attorney, who's pushing back against a second request from Paul's team: to also refrain from talk of the senator's lawn-maintenance habits.
Paul suffered multiple broken ribs in the 2017 attack, and the neighbor, Rene Boucher, pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress. Paul sued Boucher, and a jury trial set for Jan. 28 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, will determine the amount of damages the senator can receive.
Paul's legal team says his political beliefs are "irrelevant" to the trial, noting Boucher has said the attack had nothing to do with politics.
"Any reference to Senator Paul's detailed political positions could only serve to alienate potential jurors who do not share his beliefs," Paul's lawyers said in a recent pretrial motion. "Accordingly, the court should exclude any mention of Senator Paul's political ideology from this trial."
Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, said Friday he agrees that Paul's political views are irrelevant to the trial.
A hearing on the motion by Paul's lawyers is scheduled next week before Special Judge Tyler Gill.
Paul, who ran for president in 2016 and is now in his second Senate term, rose to political prominence as a favorite of tea party supporters. The Kentucky Republican frequently speaks out against what he sees as examples of wasteful federal spending and government overreach.
Paul is seeking up to $500,000 in compensatory damages and up to $1 million in punitive damages in his lawsuit.
Also in their motion, the senator's lawyers said the condition of Paul's yard before the attack should also be excluded, arguing that it "has no bearing upon the damages he is entitled to receive."
Baker said he will oppose that request because yard conditions at Paul's house are "what this has always been about." Boucher has said the senator repeatedly stacked debris near their property line in Bowling Green. He testified at a recent deposition that he tried to approach Paul two or three times about it, but each time Paul turned around and walked back into his house. Boucher said he eventually "lost his temper" and attacked the senator.
He also testified that he discussed the condition of Paul's yard with the local homeowners' association president and a board member. But Paul's attorneys noted that Boucher never filed a written complaint with the HOA.
Paul's legal team said evidence shows that "this 'dispute' was entirely one-sided, existing only in defendant's mind."
The senator's lawyers recently revealed that Paul plans to undergo hernia surgery at a private hospital in Canada sometime next week as a result of the attack. His lawyers said a biomechanics expert is prepared to testify that Paul's injuries were similar to those resulting from a 25 mph (40 kph) car crash.
Boucher was sentenced to 30 days in prison for the attack. Federal prosecutors are appealing the sentence, saying 21 months would have been appropriate.