Wife of City Atty. in Paris Hilton Case Drove Under Suspension, Got Fine Only

You may not care about Paris Hilton and her 23 day jail sentence, but I care about hypocrisy in the criminal justice system.

The L.A. Times reports:

[Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky] Delgadillo had argued that the hotel heiress should spend more time in jail for driving with a suspended license and violating her probation on alcohol-related reckless driving charges. Later that day, Delgadillo acknowledged in response to inquiries from reporters that his wife had been ticketed for failing to obey a right-turn-only sign while driving her personal car with a suspended license in 2005.

Paris was sentenced for a probation violation for driving under suspension while on probation. Mrs. Delgadillo also drove under suspension and committed a traffic offense while doing so. She was not charged with driving under suspension, only the traffic offense, and was fined $186.00.

Mrs. Delgadillo was under suspension for causing a traffic accident and not having insurance. According to California law, the penalty for driving under suspension is a fine between $5,000 and $25,000.00. She also failed to file an accident report.

There's more....

Delgadillo now refuses to answer questions about whether his wife was driving his city-owned car when it was damaged and he submitted claims for more than $2,000. to the city for its repair. The city paid the claim. At the time Delgadillo submitted the claims, his wife was under suspension.

Michelle Delgadillo's license was suspended for "driving without proof of insurance and causing an accident," said Mike Miller, a spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Michelle Delgadillo did not file a copy of the accident report with the DMV, Miller said, but the other driver involved in the accident did. Reports are required whenever an accident involves injury or more than $750 in damage. When she failed to provide proof of insurance, the DMV suspended her license from July 25, 2004, through March 6, 2007, Miller said.

On Sept. 13, 2005, Delgadillo was issued a ticket by a Los Angeles Police Department officer from West Traffic Division at 6th Street and Fairfax Place. She was driving the family's personal vehicle, a Ford Expedition, according to the ticket.

As to the accident in Delgadillo's city-owned vehicle,

...a source close to the city attorney told of being informed that the car had been backed into a structure in the parking garage of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when Delgadillo's wife, Michelle, was there for a medical appointment.

Two other sources, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said Delgadillo occasionally has allowed his wife to use the sport utility vehicle.

The suspension of her license took effect one week before her husband turned the Yukon in to the city garage Aug. 2, 2004, to repair damage from a collision.

The repair report submitted by Delgadillo said he was driving. Now, he won't answer whether it was him or his wife at the time he submitted the bill.

In other Paris news, her fellow inmates are delighted to have her back. They are getting extra perks, probably in hopes they'll keep quiet.

Several inmates at Lynwood told reporters that prison guards were treating them to extra shampoo, blankets and biscuits amid fears they could be accused of giving the reality television star special treatment.

"Since she was here last week, they started giving us double bologna, double apple juices. Two blankets instead of one - and a sheet, too! Everyone has cookies coming out of their pockets,” Rosemary Gibbons, 35, who was released from the jail on Thursday, told the New York Daily News.

Free Paris.

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    Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Rick B on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 08:36:36 PM EST
    You are totally in favor of the defendent, even when they are wrong. If I ever get arrested and tried for any crime, I really, really want you as my defense attorney. Even if I did it, I want to make damned sure that the prosecution has dotted every "i" and crossed ever "t" to prove it, and then I want every single requirement of the law that might be to my benefit given the strongest possible interpretation.

    But then the judge has to determine what is important enough to be considered by the jury, The prosecution has to be given a similar latitude to yours in presenting evidence and argument, and the jury has to take in all that and determine if, on balance, the accused is guilty and if she is as guilty as she is accused of being. As an outsider, I get what the media provides, and I hope that I can exclude the excesses that the media throws in. Before attempting what the Jury does, I have to try to apply the limitations the Judge does to the information I get. This case seems to be a little easier in which to do that. as far as the facts go, I think the media has been reasonably straight.

    I am not the defense, the prosecutor or the Judge. I am an outsider, a lot closer to the jury. In this case the facts are clear that Paris was drunk (legally) in the first place and as a juror I would consider the strength of the case and the fact that the high-priced attorneys (read strong and effective advocates) in her corner have made sure that the defense got every benefit before I ever got the information in court that said what she did. (Keep this in mind.)

    I am aware that Paris was charged with DWI but that she was given a relatively easy punishment with no jail time. I am aware that she has been stopped - twice - for driving without a valid license. She would not have been stopped without having committed a traffic infraction. This is stuff the Defense had to admit. They are really good defense attorneys. That tells me that this is the minimum of bad information that will be offered about Paris. I can and will use the capability of her attorneys as an indication of what degree of importance I give the information I am given. Then I will consider this in terms of my own life. [That's why we have juries, right? Otherwise we would leave these decisions to judges.]

    My last ticket was in January 1991. Before that it was December 1984. I used to not give a sh*t. Then I learned from my mistakes. Apparently , Paris didn't give a sh*t. Twice she didn't give a sh*t.

    Apparently something needs to get her attention. That something is, logically, jail time.

    Her family, particularly her mother, seem to have done her no favor. Paris' reaction to the decision by the Judge rather suggests that Paris has no concept that she is just another person in society.

    Those of us with some empathy for this poor woman can only hope that this relatively minor event and punishment can get through to her. Perhaps she will become aware that her sh*t DOES stink, just like that of everyone else in the world. [Yeah, yeah, different odor depending on diet, but the odor is still there.]

    As a generic person presented to me through the media, I frankly don't like Paris Hilton. But as a child of privilege who has suddenly had to face the reality that she really isn't all that special, in spite of the money and power of her family, I really hope that this can be The kind of educational experience she needs to become a relatively healthy human being.

    I am sufficiently cynical to doubt that this will get through to her. The power, wealth and control available to her family makes it very unlikely that Paris will get much positive out of this.

    A defense attorney, doing what defense attorneys do best, is not going her help her much as a person. Their job is to keep her out of jail. You aren't going to help her, Jeralyn. It's not in your skill set. I really have very little hope for Paris as a person.

    Damned shame, that. Hope I'm wrong.

    Bravo! (none / 0) (#20)
    by Aaron on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:26:03 PM EST
    Nothing more need be said, you hit that nail squarely on the head, a mighty blow indeed, and drove it straight to the heart of the matter.

    You missed the point... (none / 0) (#21)
    by FaulknA on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:49:50 PM EST
    ...so badly that I'm having a hard time typing right now. There's no mention in this post of any love for Paris Jeralyn. The point he's making has to do with the arbitrary nature and hypocricy of a justice system that punishes one person and lets another go free for virtually the same crime. The only difference that counts seems to be that one is well known and the other is well connected. It's not justice no matter how you look at it. Paris isn't my favorite person in the world either but that shouldn't come into the equation when it comes down to who pays the piper. Use your brain if you have one. You're just as bad as Paris.

    Sorry... (none / 0) (#22)
    by FaulknA on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 10:54:56 PM EST
    Strike Jeralyn and replace with Rick B. It's been a long day.

    Nobody.... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 09:04:58 AM EST
    goes to jail for a first time dui where no one gets hurt in my experience, though that may be changing in this MADD mad world.  

    And I don't think even a day in jail is a minor punishment, which anybody who has spent anytime in a cage understands.  

    It's not about Paris Hilton, it's about the frequency with which we cage human beings.  There are more humane ways to "get someones attention" than chaining and caging.  For example, 30 days of community service cleaning up parks is more humane, whats wrong with that?


    I wish I could say (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jen M on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 04:07:36 PM EST
    this surprises me

    O.K. You win. I did ask a close friend (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 04:39:00 PM EST
    who is a Superior Court judge in Southern CA if Hilton's sentence was out of line in the judge's opinion.  Judge sd. no.  Haven't checked today though.

    I haven't read (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 04:42:03 PM EST
    that alcohol was involved in any conduct by the City Attorney's wife.  

    Let's not spread rumors, ok?

    2 wrongs don't make a right. (none / 0) (#15)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 06:09:26 PM EST
    She didn't drive drunk (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 04:50:14 PM EST
    Which is a much more serious offense.  She wasn't stopped twice for driving with a suspended license, and she didn't fail to sign up for classes as part of her probabtion as Ms. Hilton failed to do.

    I love you, Jeralyn, but your twisted efforts here are well short of your usual comprehensive logic.  Find people who have driven twice and also failed to live up to counseling requirements of their sentence.  THEN you will have a genuine comparison.

    That said, the city should be millions richer if they'd progressively fine people like they progressively tax them.  She should've been sentenced to live in the hood and pay millions.

    If she drove his car (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:00:22 PM EST
    then she drove at least twice.  It sounds like she drove a lot.  Read through the facts again from the news articles.

    I disagree. It is not illegal to drink and drive. It's illegal to drive under the influence of alchohol.

    Paris didn't plead to DUI.  She plead to alcohol reckless driving.

    I think it's more dangerous to get in accident than to be stopped for an alcohol offense when there was no accident. And as a public policy matter, driving without insurance is very bad because if there's an accident the victims have no recourse (unless you are in a no-fault state.)

    If you are going to make an argument here, the one to make is that Paris was on probation and the city attorney's wife wasn't.  Even then, they both drove under suspension, the City Attorney's wife wasn't charged with it and got a fine while Paris went to jail with prohibitions against early release, house arrest, etc.


    Is it really hypocrisy? (none / 0) (#6)
    by lawstudent on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 04:56:10 PM EST
    I certainly agree that Paris got a harsher sentence because of "who" she is (who is she again?), but i'm not so sure that i'd call it hypocrisy.  there is (and should be) a good faith attempt in the criminal justice system at some sort of uniformity of sentencing, but there is (and should be) some room for leeway.  

    regardless of whether paris got too much or the wife of the city attorney too little, there should be room for discretion.  the problem is not hypocrisy, but rather the abuse of discretion (although, personally, i don't think that was the case here).

    Poor comparison, though interesting (none / 0) (#7)
    by Aaron on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:00:19 PM EST
    Driving without insurance or proof of insurance, and failing to report a minor accident is a significantly different crime then reckless driving (which is itself a serious charge) compounded with being under the influence of alcohol.  The combination of those two offenses are the kind of thing that gets people killed.

    To my knowledge driving without insurance has never killed anyone, so I think the comparison is a bit of a stretch. Paris got ticketed three times I believe, in different jurisdictions, for driving while her license was suspended.  That demonstrates a continuing contempt for the law, by someone who was on probation and who could easily afford to have herself driven everywhere she needs to go.

    It seems odd that this prosecutor's wife would be driving without insurance, and then fail to report an accident even though she knew the other driver was going to do so, that's just not too bright. I don't know if California is a no-fault insurance state or not, that might have some bearing on her accident, and why it went unreported.  Her license was suspended for two years as a result of these offenses, that seems rather extraordinary.  I wonder what kind of driving record she has.  

    As to the parallel with Paris, was Delgadillo's wife caught numerous times continuing to drive on a suspended license?  Was she on probation for her offenses and did she violate that probation?  If not then I think that also tends to invalidate the comparison.

    Concerning the special treatment, I like the fact that everyone in jail is receiving benefits as a result of Paris's presence, it's like her privileged life is rubbing off on everyone in the jail.  Perhaps we should lock up more celebrities in order to improve the conditions for everyone in county jails.  :-)

    I still think the kicker for Paris was being (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:20:38 PM EST
    late to her initial sentencing hearing.

    I'd guess.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:25:35 PM EST
    there are at least a million people driving on suspended licenses right now.  So what.  

    What's more dangerous, an illegal turn or blowing a .08?  It depends on the circumstances is the honest answer,  whether or not other drivers were put at risk.  For instance, making a turn the wrong way down a one-way street is loads more dangerous than driving like a champ after a couple glasses of wine with dinner.

    There isn't a MADD org. as to (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:27:46 PM EST
    Ms. Delgadillo's offense, and, actually, I strongly support MADD's objectives.

    I hope no one starts.... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:34:37 PM EST
    KAIL (Knuckleheads Against Illegal Turns), but I'm rooting for a AAOI (Americans Against Over-Incarceration).

    Catchy acronyms. (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 05:37:38 PM EST
    MADDS objectives ... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 06:22:41 PM EST
    ... are to continue bring in more money. The head of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a man.

    MADD has encouraged more draconian offenses (see Carry Nation) that have had no effect on impaired driving deaths.

    At some point someone should apply science, realize that this isn't working, and do some more research. But it's hard to get elected saying that in a 30 sec sound bite.

    It's easy to get elected saying 'I'll make the law even tougher!'

    Drugs, alcohol, muslims, wire tapping, torture, war ... etc, etc etc.


    I recall reading DUIs nationwide had declined, but (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 06:31:26 PM EST
    recently started increasing again.  As a former prosecutor, I feel compelled to point out that some of the saddest cases were those where someone driving under the influence killed a passenger or someone else.  

    In that case.... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 09:08:52 AM EST
    charge them with manslaughter if reckless driving caused the accident.  

    In Paris' case and all the others where there was no accident and no injury, we need to get a grip on ourselves instead of using the chains and cages at the drop of a hat.


    If the facts are that she bascially ignored (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 03:34:48 PM EST
    the conditions of her probation, I don't see that the "drop of the hat" applies.  

    I'm all for that (none / 0) (#14)
    by Sailor on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 06:08:47 PM EST
    Paris Hilton is a promiscuous young woman who enjoys sex, nightlife and international travel.
    But she also has continued to drive drunk, after suspension, ignore court orders and her and/or her family insults the judge at every proceeding.

    Yes, TWICE she was caught driving (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by lilybart on Fri Jun 15, 2007 at 06:21:48 PM EST
    while under suspension and had not done anything else the court asked her to do.

    And drunk driving has to be zero tolerance.


    Zero tolerance..... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Mon Jun 18, 2007 at 06:55:21 AM EST
    uses zero brains.  What a waste of the gift of reason.

    I'm scared (none / 0) (#33)
    by Slado on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 09:30:58 AM EST
    Sailor is dead right on this Jeralyn.

    This is second grade stuff.   Just because some other lady got a pass doesn't mean that Paris deserved one.

    It was not the crime as much as it was her disregard or total lack of respect for the law, the court and the judge that got her in jail.

    She won't do it again and if she's ever in court again she'll play nice and so will the other 20 something knuckleheads (Lindsay?) that she runs around with that will eventually be in court themselves.


    Equal protection (none / 0) (#23)
    by mattd on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 12:25:59 AM EST
    ...is supposed to mean that everyone is treated the same for the same set of facts under the law.  There cannot be equal protection when one person's punishment differs from another solely because that person is famous, or rich, or well-connected, or because the judge or prosecutor wants to "send a message" to unknown other persons who are not involved in the case.

    It destroys the very definition of "equal protection" for everyone to consider it perfectly normal when any case gets special treatment solely because people are watching and might otherwise get the "wrong idea."  The sad thing is that people have no problem with some people getting special treatment under the law, as long as it's more harsh than what others get.

    In the absence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances, no one should get punishment different from anyone else.  Being rich, poor, white, black, famous, unknown, or well-connected should be neither an aggravating nor mitigating circumstance.

    agreed mattd (none / 0) (#24)
    by cpinva on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 12:59:32 AM EST
    but in this instance, you have two very different cases: DUI vs not. DUI is much more dangerous. so, while it appears that the prosecutor's wife was treated differently than ms. hilton, their offenses weren't comparable.

    the proverbial "apples & oranges".

    Actually... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 09:16:23 AM EST
    an illegal turn down a one-way can be more dangerous than a dui.  It's apples and apples...both driving offenses.  

    Now that I think of it, should driving with a .08 while obeying every traffic law and sped limit even be an offense?


    I had understood... (none / 0) (#30)
    by mattd on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 12:54:04 PM EST
    ...that in both the present cases, the offense was "driving with a suspended license," and that in neither case had the offense that resulted in the suspended license produced a jail sentence.

    I would still think it's a violation of equal protection to say that one person's license is "more suspended" than another's based on the reason for the suspension, or that one suspension has to be more (or less) vigorously enforced than any other.  Unless the law allows for such variances, then absent aggravating or mitigating circumstances, one suspension should be the same as every other, and any violation of suspension should be treated the same as every other violation.

    Right?  Did I miss something?


    I guess the (none / 0) (#25)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 05:23:10 AM EST
    only way to get over the Paris sentencing here is to call for mandatory minimums.  That way everyone is treated the same.

    Or.... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 09:17:25 AM EST
    mandatory "no cages" for certain offenses.

    Jail time for others driving on suspended license (none / 0) (#32)
    by Aaron on Sat Jun 16, 2007 at 08:46:17 PM EST
    Apparently those who've been benefiting from the perks of having Paris in jail with them, have also received a comparable sentence for driving with a suspended license.  Perhaps justice is blind.

    Come on . . . (none / 0) (#34)
    by txpublicdefender on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 05:06:44 PM EST
    People get different sentences for the same crime all the time.  The only way to avoid that is to have a mandatory sentence.  Otherwise, there is always a range, and that range allows the judge or jury to consider all sorts of other factors.  I have no idea if the City Attorney's wife got special treatment.  If she did, that was wrong.  But just because his wife got light treatment, that doesn't mean the prosecutor then should disregard his obligation to seek what he believes is a just sentence.  And no matter what he seeks, the final decision here was the judge's, and I think he had ample reason for the sentence he gave.  He could easily have found that Paris blatantly perjured herself in the hearing by denying that she knew her license was suspended or that it meant she couldn't drive.  It was established fact that she did it 3 times, twice having signed a warning that reminded her that her license was suspended.  One of the times she was stopped, she was driving 70 in a 35 at night, with her lights off.  That is extremely dangerous.  And, oh yeah, she apparently hadn't done anything else she was supposed to do for her probation either.  She essentially thumbed her nose at the court in every possible way, and the judge slammed her.  I see that happen all the time with defendants who have no wealth or celebrity.