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Monday, June 04, 2007

Credit where due: Pampered, petulant, and pouty Paris pivots, and now primly and properly professes penitence in pokey

The third time the whirling red-and-blues show up in your rear-view mirror inside a six-month period, you need to start re-examining your basic premises about yourself, driving, and the law — especially if the first one resulted in your pleading no-contest to an alcohol-related reckless driving charge, and the second one resulted in your being ticketed for driving on a restricted license from the first offense.

So when Paris Hilton was sentenced to jail for a blatant, inexcusable violation of her probation — prompting normally sober, responsible lawyer-bloggers to write Free Paris!" blog posts and claim that she was being persecuted because of her celebrity status — I started on more than one occasion to write a curmudgeonly rebuttal, arguing that she clearly had defied the law and just as clearly needed to be taught a lesson in civic responsibility.

On the third occasion, she was allegedly speeding, with her headlights off, at 11:00 p.m. She claimed to be under the impression that even after the second stop, she had driving privileges that permitted her to go to and from work — but she was "on her way home from buying DVDs at [a] Virgin Megastore in West Hollywood." (I guess her theory was that if your "work" is being a celebrity party animal, going to buy DVDs is a job requirement, and you're "on the job" pretty much all the time.) Lines like this one gained her no sympathy from me:

"I feel that I was treated unfairly and that the sentence is both cruel and unwarranted and I don't deserve this," she said as she left for a shopping trip with her mother.

And her mother Kathy clearly needed a cold shower and a reality check, based on her conduct during Paris' sentencing and comments immediately after:

[Paris' mom] laughed [in the courtroom] when a city prosecutor argued that Paris deserved jail time. When a judge ordered the 26-year-old Paris to serve 45 days in county jail, Kathy Hilton blurted out: ''May I have your autograph?''

She also shared her feelings with reporters outside: ''This is pathetic and disgusting, a waste of taxpayer money with all this nonsense. This is a joke.''

Every time I started writing such a post, though, I ended up deleting it before publishing, on grounds that I don't want to reward selfish celebrity misbehavior even to the limited extent of recognizing it on my humble blog.

But then the younger Ms. Hilton got a new lawyer, Richard Hutton. We know not, of course, what he may have told her and her family in their private discussions, but she was clearly in need of some wise counsel — not necessarily better advocacy, for there is a time when the most effective counselor is he who counsels an end to the courtroom fighting. And almost immediately afterwards, in his public statements on her behalf, and in her own statements, appeared what seemed (at least to public eyes) to be a new attitude. Noises about an appeal disappeared. Someone dialed the martyrdom rhetoric back down to zero, where it ought to have been all along. Her original 45-day sentence was dialed back to half that, based not on her celebrity status or fortune but on L.A. County jail overcrowding.

Last night she surrendered herself at the L.A. County Jail for booking and transport to the womens-only Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, and whatever were the respective proportions of sincerity and calculated spin, she appears to have behaved herself well:

"I am trying to be strong right now," she told reporters on the red carpet [at the MTV Music Awards before heading for the jail]. "I'm ready to face my sentence. Even though this is a really hard time, I have my family, my friends and my fans to support me, and that's really helpful."

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Hilton was easy to work with.

"Her demeanor was helpful. She was focused, she was cooperative," he said....

"I did have a choice to go to a pay jail," Hilton said Sunday, without giving details. "But I declined because I feel like the media portrays me in a way that I'm not and that's why I wanted to go to county, to show that I can do it and I'm going to be treated like everyone else. I'm going to do the time, I'm going to do it the right way."

And in a written statement released by her new lawyer:

"I am ready to face the consequences of violating probation. During the past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to think and have come to realize I made some mistakes."

Hilton added, "This is an important point in my life and I need to take responsibility for my actions. In the future, I plan on taking more of an active role in the decisions I make. I want to thank my family, friends and fans for their continued support. Although I am scared, I am ready to begin my jail sentence."

I approve. My own two teenage daughters haven't ever regarded her as a role model, but somebody's daughters do, and it's a good thing for them to hear contrite words directly from Ms. Hilton's mouth.

And hey, since this is apparently "post lots of pix of blondes" day on BeldarBlog:

Paris Hilton's mugshot from the L.A. County Jail

Her mugshot is genuinely lovely.

She has my sincere best wishes for a safe, reflective stay, and a future blessed with at least enough self-knowledge and wisdom to keep her free from trouble with the law.


UPDATE (Thu Jun 7 @ 3:45pm): And now she's been released to serve 40 days' home confinement (with an electronic ankle bracelet monitor) due to a "medical condition." The decision was reportedly made by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials, rather than the judge who sentenced her. I don't know what to make of that. One can hope she's still learned a lesson. One worries that it's the wrong one.

And a correction: I was wrong in saying her 45-day sentence was halved due to jail overcrowding. That was actually just a projection of her actual jail time based on the one-for-one "good behavior credit" all L.A. County prisoners receive if they behave.

Posted by Beldar at 11:14 PM in Current Affairs, Family, Law (2007) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Credit where due: Pampered, petulant, and pouty Paris pivots, and now primly and properly professes penitence in pokey and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» After a 540 degree rotation, Paris appears to be back on a sensible script from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Jun 10, 2007 8:02:01 AM


(1) The Other JD made the following comment | Jun 7, 2007 8:50:31 PM | Permalink

I would very much like for the judge in Ms. Hilton's case to lay an OSC on the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, because it's my understanding that when judges write things on the sentencing sheet like no alternative sentences, etc.

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