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In Hilton case, it’s L.A. that looks most foolish

On Friday afternoon, Paris Hilton became a victim of this city’s perpetual ineptness when it comes to balancing the scales of justice in high-profile celebrity cases.
/ Source: contributor

I’m a little disappointed in myself today because I’m not sticking to my original plan. It’s the third day of the half-yearly sale for women at Nordstrom and I’ve yet to get there.


I’ve been glued to the tube all morning watching all the drama unfold on MSNBC as Paris Hilton was escorted back to the Los Angeles County courthouse for a brief hearing, where she learned that her jailhouse pardon had been revoked and she was headed back to the slammer.

Like many of you I guess I’m just fascinated by the fascination.

Not since O.J. Simpson’s infamous white bronco chase in 1994 have media outlets devoted this much coverage to a celebrity who has run afoul — just slightly in her case — of the law.  And while the sight of Hilton crying in the back of that sheriff’s cruiser evoked a bit of emotion in me, I can’t say that I’m sorry that Hilton is apparently heading back to jail.

The thought of her roaming around her 2,400-square foot home as opposed to a 12-by-8-foot cell was rather disconcerting because it seemed as if the haves had once again spit in the face of the have-nots.

You can’t learn the error of your ways when you have an abundance of amenities to help you get through the day. And if Hilton was, or is, on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, she should have been transferred to County General like everyone else. Not to a luxury pad in the Hollywood Hills.

Jail is not a holiday. Everyone goes nuts when they’re incarcerated.

Los Angeles gets another black eyeBut after seeing what Hilton went through today, I can’t help but feel a little empathy for her. A few days ago she was aptly playing the victim in this riveting episode of the critically panned Paris Hilton Show. On Friday afternoon, she became a victim of this city’s perpetual ineptness when it comes to balancing the scales of justice in high-profile celebrity cases.

Need I remind you of all the miscues in the Rodney King, O.J. and Robert Blake cases?

Note to the county courts: If you can’t convict, you need to quit.

And if you want to play ping-pong use a ball and some paddles — not a young heiress with purported medical issues.

It’s apparent that the dueling egos of Sheriff Lee Baca and Judge Michael T. Sauer have turned what should had been a simple case into a huge debacle that news outlets have recorded every second of. On Thursday, Baca, purportedly on the recommendation of Hilton’s shrink, reassigned the heiress to house arrest without consulting the court, the city attorney or the prosecutor involved in the case. Hilton’s release after having served only three days of a 23- or 45-day sentence resulted in a firestorm of criticism that had everyone from legal pundits to the Rev. Al Sharpton crying foul.

If Hilton, 26, was indeed on the verge of falling apart before her hearing this afternoon, she must be completely over the edge by now. It’s no wonder she’s reportedly spending the weekend in the psych ward.

Yet if Sauer, as some folks have speculated, is really out to get Hilton because of her wealth and fame, it might be because he’s grown weary of young Hollywood’s apparent disregard for the law. You’ve got teens in bars, DUI arrests every other day and those are the only things we routinely hear about. Hilton, the reigning queen of this scene, has now been elevated or demoted, to serving as the poster child for celebrity reform.

Making an example, however, out of Hilton might prove to be yet another blunder for the city’s legal system. If in fact her undisclosed medical condition is real and something happens to her when she’s on lockdown, the Hiltons might subsequently own more than a few hotels in L.A. They might be granted the deeds to the coveted three Bs — Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Brentwood.

Conversely, if Hilton is faking it or just having a natural adverse reaction to solitary confinement, the sheriff will look foolish and once again the world will be laughing at yet another dramatic episode of L.A. Law.

Why did it go this far to begin with?You’d think that those who work in the city’s legal system would know how to work the system by now. Sure, celebrities have been getting away with murder and lesser crimes since the days of prohibition. We don’t need Rev. Al to tell us that. But the Hilton case is a little different in that her crime — violating probation — was really not that serious and certainly should not have gone this far.

Ankle bracelets. Paparazzi chasing police cruisers. MSNBC reporters getting hurt in the melee that occurred outside Hilton’s home today. Debating pundits. Fashion faux paus.

This whole situation is just crazy.

A phone call or an e-mail could have spared us all from being bombarded with breaking news updates on Hilton all day. Hilton’s mother, Kathy, wouldn’t have had to hear her daughter frantically screaming out for her as she was led out of the courtroom. Rev. Al wouldn’t have had to disrupt his day by debating legalities with Chris Matthews. Baca wouldn’t have had to hold a news conference where he essentially pleaded the Fifth. And the L.A. court system would not be in the midst of yet another embarrassing PR nightmare.

Movie stars, swimming pools, jailhouse crack. You gotta love L.A.

My greatest fear, however, is that Hilton now might be too traumatized to learn anything positive from this experience. She might have if she had remained in jail and served out her full term without this unnecessary interruption. Adversity is supposed to make you smarter and stronger. But now the fame that she has so purposely courted since the turn of the century may now make her more infamous than ever.

The toast of the town has morphed into a troubled “low-level” offender who currently has a target on the back of her jumpsuit.

But this is L.A. and Hilton could once again be a partially free woman by nightfall. Maybe I should text her about the Nordstrom’s sale.

Miki Turner is a freelance TV producer/writer in Los Angeles. She can be reached at .