Good for Paris Hilton

I don't care about Paris Hilton. I am only blogging about her because I know you care. And I'm not going to spend too much time or energy focusing upon today's STUNNING NEWS that she has been released early from a California prison due to some sort of "medical condition" that apparently precludes her from spending the next few weeks serving out her term.

In the end, after all the messiness, the woman spent about the same amount of time in prison as she would have served had she been a regular ol' violator of her probation due to driving with a suspended license. She was punished initially for being a celebrity when she got a 45-day sentence. And today perhaps she got a break for being a celebrity by getting prosecutors and prison officials to agree to allow her to serve her time under house arrest.

You can call it outrageous. You can call it unequal justice. I call it a wash.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 7, 2007; 2:29 PM ET
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Your instinct is right; Ho Hum! Yawn!

Posted by: DC | June 7, 2007 03:15 PM

booooooooooooooooooooooooo keep her in jail!!!

Posted by: brandonesque | June 7, 2007 04:17 PM

For one DUI, a few days in jail would have been the norm. But three separate violations of her probation called for a stiffer penalty. 23 days was right in the middle of the sentencing guidlines. I think the reason so many people are focusing on this that they see it as emblematic of a general perception that there is a two-tiered system of justice: one set of rules for the wealthy and influential and another for everyone else. Cases like this don't help to disabuse people of that notion.

Posted by: John | June 7, 2007 04:34 PM

Andrew Cohen slso is depressed the 67 million lawsuit on lost pants was dropped. I wonder why lawyers always get a bad rap? Mr. Cohen you sir are clueless as Paris Hilton is.

Posted by: Busdriver420 | June 7, 2007 04:38 PM

"You can call it unequal justice. I call it a wash."

No, I call your attitude inexplicable. Do you really believe that the ends justify the means? Do you think it would have been OK for Paris just to escape after five days if that's what a "regular ol' violator" would have served?

First, I'm not at all convinced an average person would only do five days given that it's a meme being propogated by her lawyer. Second, you forget that it's all about the process. Maybe Paris did get a tough sentence and maybe she -- and you -- think she got it because she's a celebrity. Well, lots of people get what they consider unfair sentences and they blame it on being black or poor. They, however, have data suggesting that they may be right.
The outrage here is that Paris's money and influence got her out of jail. Her personal psychiatrist and her lawyer visited her every day and, no doubt, pulled out all the stops to get her released early. Poor defendants can't do that, you know. Lots of poor defendant's find jail extremely traumatic. They, however, have no choice but to suck it up and do their time. If they have a breakdown, they get sent to the jail's psych ward, not home to mommy's mansion.
You take great umbrage at the arrogance displayed by Gonzales in abusing the process. You should take just as great an umbrage at the arrogance -- and the acquiescence that allows Paris Hilton to manipulate the system. It's all part of the same problem. Money and power should have no weight in our justice system.

Posted by: Mike | June 7, 2007 04:46 PM

Don't quite follow this argument. Normally when prisoners getting special treatment behave badly (don't eat etc) they get released to the general population, not the outside.

Posted by: wrb | June 7, 2007 07:33 PM

Two words = Elected Judges.

My initial reaction was mild bemusement with a tinge of indignation. However, I had not considered the sentencing angle. I don't know the facts here, but if this was in fact a case of the Hilton Judge playing to the Peanuts Gallery, I would have to agree with AC's analysis.

As far as the Gonzo/Libby/Hilton comparisons go, these are ridiculous on their face. Hilton may be rich, but she is not administering the American Justice system. This is not the Chief enforcement officer in the land that we're talking about.

Posted by: JP2 | June 7, 2007 08:56 PM

I think this is really more reflective of an ad hoc approach to American justice. Or maybe in this case ad hominem. Ms. Hilton was imprisoned because of a probation violation, of a three year suspended sentence for her drunk driving violation.

Perhaps Mr. Cohen believes that probation violation in America should not be enforced, but basically what Ms. Hilton was imprisoned for was breaking her word to the court, and showing the same level of contempt for our judiciary that Mr. Cohen waxes passionately about.

These probation violations included failure to follow the terms of her sentence and probation: she did not enrole in a mandatory alcohol rehabiliation program within 21 days of sentencing. She was also guilty of serious traffic vilations including driving 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone in darkness without headlights and without a valid drivers license (hers being suspended as part of her drunk driving sentence).

The judge SPECIFICALLY said that Ms. Hilton needed to serve the whole term of imprisonment (45 days) in jail, and not one day at home. The sheriff immediately was possilbe that the imprisonment could be reduced the sentence to 23 days because of anticipated good behavior.

So it seems to me evidenced in this blog and others that Mr. Cohen cares more about the person (or celebrity) when it comes to justice rather than the rule of law and respect for our justice system. And he certainly doesn't seem to waste any of his valuable time considering the facts or issues in a case before expressing his deeply considered opinion.

Posted by: Constituationlist | June 8, 2007 08:51 AM

So, on an unrelated note Constitutionalist, how's that lobbying work on Scooter Libby's behalf coming?

Posted by: JP2 | June 8, 2007 09:12 AM

The problem with LA is their jails are so crowded that they regularly let non violent offenders go with little or no jail time. So according to the experts Paris did serve the average jail time. Either that or build more prisons that cost billions and then tens of thousands to keep an inmate in jail annually. More tax for all you outraged readers?

LA off course could blame Washington for not protecting its border.

Posted by: | June 8, 2007 11:38 AM

Whoaaa! Stop the presses. Hilton back in court. Seems as if Judge Sauer is a bit unhappy.

Posted by: DC | June 8, 2007 02:45 PM

Well, now they have really turned this whole thing into a spectacle. Only in LA! Everybody should be proud, the Paris haters and the Paris defenders.

Posted by: | June 8, 2007 04:15 PM

I really guess I have to respond to JP2's provocation. So let me just state that I have never opposed the sentence handed out to Mr. Libby, never suggested that it was unfair or unjust. If he can find the place where I did this, please do.

Let us try to focus on facts rather than use innuendo for slanderous purposes. My complaint against Mr. Cohen is not that he is inconsistent, but that he shows little or no sign of thought or attempt to research the facts before jumping in with opinion.

In this case he makes the point about Ms. Hilton serveing no more time than anyone else who violated probation by driving with a suspended license without mentioning the underlying serious traffic violation, which was equivalent to doing 70 MPH on Herndon Parkway or Reston Parkway or Connecticute Avenue, at night without headlights. Let me point out that in most jurisdictions twice the speed limit is RECKLESS DRIVING, one of the offenses Ms. Hilton was originally sentenced for. So basically she went out and recommitted the crime, perhaps this time sober, but no better a driver.

So to JP2, slam me for what I say, not what you think I might think. And Andrew, try to know the facts before you spew forth an opinion.

Posted by: Constitutionalist | June 8, 2007 05:30 PM

I don't know enough of the legal or factual particulars to comment on the Hilton sentence or the sheriff's actions, but I have been struck by the public animus toward this defendant. The little that I know of her suggests that there is not much admirable about her, at least in terms of her public conduct, but one would think that she is a serial killer or child molester from the way some folks are so psychologically invested in her incarceration, indeed in her suffering. They remind me a bit of the Queen of Hearts: "Off with her head!" Reminds me a little bit too of a rally held at Union Square in San Francisco in 1984 when Dan White, who had killed SF Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone, was paroled. I was in SF for a law school conference and attended the rally out of curiosity. I was stunned by the calls for White's murder, both from some speakers at the rally and from many in the crowd, many of whom wore "Off White" buttons. It came as no surprise when White committed suicide in 1985 since he was both a haunted and a hunted man. Of course, it's not that bad for Ms. Hilton, who unlike White has not murdered anyone, but the public hysteria over her sentencing, incarceration, release (and now recommitment) seems more befitting a homicide case than her case. It has triggered in me something I never would have expected based on her public persona and behavior, i.e., a little sympathy for her.

Posted by: P. Bosley Slogthrop | June 9, 2007 08:03 AM

Bos, you know what the Paris Hilton brouhaha makes me think of? (Aside from the "2 Minutes' Hate" in "1984" that is...) Reality TV shows.

One of the reasons why those things succeed is because they give the viewers someone to hate. When you see a jerk, someone you feel so much BETTER than, you feel better about yourself. "At least I'm not THAT jackass!"

And if you're a working-class American schmoe, whose life is getting worse, who's paying more for petrol and worrying about what's going to happen if you get sick witn no health insurance, you feel SO MUCH BETTER to have a rich person to hate. And who better to hate than this caricature of a spoiled rich brat? Much better for the ruling class than having you hate a really dangerous rich person such as the CEO of Exxon...

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | June 11, 2007 08:06 AM

Bosley: I haven't particularly noticed such a vehement reaction, as the Hilton story has almost no interest for me. If as you say, its a sad and not very surprising commentary on prominent traits of much of U.S. society today. Sorry to say.

Posted by: Vin | June 11, 2007 01:22 PM

So has the sheriff produced any documents for the judge to review about paris hilton's medical condition? I haven't hear that he has.

Would a non-celebrity be allowed to serve their sentence at home? Most non-violent offenders released from jail early are released without having to serve additional time any place, including a half-way house or with electronic monitoring at their own home. If the sheriff had intended to release paris hilton in the same manner of other non-violent offenders for jail overcrowding, he would have not had her wear an electronic monitoring device.

Who was the 'independent' psychiatrist' and who were the two 'independent' psychologists who supposedly analyzed paris hilton's condition on Tuesday and Wednesday, and who called them in?

Do all offenders who skip their meds, thus endangering their mental health get let out of jail, or do they get committed to the jail's medical facilities? paris hilton got released, but all others go to the medical facility.

These are just a few of my thoughts about how paris hilton got special treatment that the non-celebrity offender can only dream about.

Posted by: Mike in Baltimore | June 12, 2007 01:34 AM

Paris either is the wrong state or has the wrong attorney. Legal pundits says you violate probation you go too jail. What a joke as the law is merely guidelines and google southdakotagov.info for details.

Posted by: Jason | June 12, 2007 01:38 PM

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