Paris Hilton Not Home Free: Prosecutor Challenges Release

[Note: Scroll down for updates as I've added several]

The City Attorney in Los Angeles is challenging the Sheriff's decision to send Paris Hilton home on house arrest. The Judge has scheduled a hearing tomorrow. You can read the motion here. (pdf)

The City Attorney is also demanding that the Sheriff pick her up at her house tomorrow and transport her to court for the hearing.

There's more. He is asking the Judge to hold the Sheriff in contempt of court for putting Paris on home detention which the Judge precluded in his sentencing order. The court spokesman today said the Sheriff asked the judge to modify the sentence to home detention yesterday and the judge declined. But, the Judge was told of the sentence change before

My earlier post on Paris' release is here.

Update: I think it's up to the Sheriff where to place her. Even the court spokesman initially said today,


TMZ has confirmed that Judge Michael T. Sauer was informed of the Sheriff's decision before Hilton was reassigned to house arrest, but the Judge only responded by reaffirming the terms he imposed on May 4.

We spoke to Allan Parachini, Public Information Officer for the Los Angeles County Courts, who advises that "All decisions on incarceration are made by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department once a sentence is imposed."

I'm wondering if the Judge didn't tell the sheriff when he filed the motion to put her on house arrest that now that she had been sentenced and incarcerated he could place her wherever he wanted and there was no need for court permission, thus he denied the motion. He probably didn't count on the City Attorney's challenge.
Update: The court spokesman says at 12:30 pm ET on Friday that the Sheriff called the court and asked if he would modify his sentence. The Court told the Sheriff to file the appropriate pleadings and the Sheriff never did. The issue of her medical condition never came up at the hearing because no papers were ever filed about it.

One other note: Her probation was not revoked. It was continued with the added condition she serve 45 days in jail because she had violated the terms by driving without a license. See the original order (pdf).

Update: On Greta, someone is saying that the jail either didn't have her specific psychiatric medicine available or the jail wasn't allowed by state regulations to give it to her in the quantities prescribed. If it wasn't on their list of approved medicines they couldn't provide it to her.

I wonder if Paris won't be admitted to the hospital tonight so she doesn't have to go to court tomorrow.

Prediction: The Judge upholds the Sheriff's decision. Paris won't go back to jail.

Update: Scribe disagrees and has written a diary explaining his reasoning. His post convinces me the Sheriff had the right to do what he did.

If you've ever sat through a criminal sentencing, you hear the words at the end, "I hereby commit you to the custody of the (take your pick) Attorney General, Department of Corrections, Sheriff of whatever County" for a period of x time."

At that point, custody and jurisdiction over that prisoner and sentence is transferred to, in this case, the Sheriff. The Sheriff complied with the Court's order. He put Paris in custody in a county jail, not on electronic monitoring. But that doesn't mean he can't change the conditions of confinement later.

When we as defense lawyers want to change the place of incarceration, the Judge tells us he doesn't have that authority, it's up to the Bureau of Prisons or the Sheriff where to place the prisoner. The best I've ever been able to do is file a motion I call "Relief from Conditions of Cruel and Unusual Punishment" and argue it as an 8th Amendment issue...not an issue of whether the custodial agency had the power to make the decision.

The city attorney is arguing that in Paris' case, because she was on probation, the court retains jurisdiction over her. It's true he retains jurisdiction of her case. But I don't think it's true he retains jurisdiction for where or how she serves the sentence, once the Sheriff has complied with his initial order.

I believe the Judge signed off on this in advance by agreeing the Sheriff didn't need his permission to change her conditions of confinement once he complied with the initial order.

We'll know tomorrow morning, but I still think the Sheriff acted within his authority. The Judge may hang the Sheriff (and Paris) out to dry, but I think if he does, it's because he's catering to public opinion, not the law.

Last update for the evening: WaPo's Eugene Robinson on Paris Hilton as Mona Lisa.

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    I'd love to see her stay in (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by janinsanfran on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 08:23:22 PM EST
    She's a perfect target for all our class resentments. But Jeralyn, I have great respect for your consistency on this one.

    I do too. (none / 0) (#2)
    by nolo on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:06:05 PM EST
    Jeralyn, you're an advocate's advocate.  I have great admiration for your principles.

    Thanks to both of you (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:14:02 PM EST
    Much appreciated.

    Saving the Sheriff's butt and Paris the martyr (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by liberalpatriot on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 05:19:09 AM EST
       The release of Paris has nothing to do with priviledge. She was being held in solitary confinement and denied medication. No doubt the Sheriff knew that a lawsuit based on cruel and unusual punishment was coming. In order to save costs of litigation and subsequent destructive publicity, he did the most practical thing possible. She is out of his physical confinement and receives medical care but still serves time.
        Due to her celebrity he could not mix her into the general population without disrupting his prison and perhaps endangering her but he lacks resources to confine her without being accused of special treatment. If he shifted her to a hospital her prescence  would disrupt the hospital and it would require a special detail to keep the media away.You would need at least 2 guards 24 hours a day. Very expensive.
        His decision saves the Sheriff tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars which is better used to keep the dangerous off the streets. Paris now pays the costs of survellience and medication and the media no longer bothers the prison system.
        In California it is not unusual to get home confinement but the judge did not have the balls to grant it, passing the problem to the Sheriff who has the right to do what he wants in the best interest of his prison and prisoners.
          The Judge should simply say that the Sheriff has the authority over her. If he attempts to tell the Sheriff what to do, the Sheriff could make this a political issue by admitting what is kept below public view, there is prison overcrowding and he lacks resouces. If that happens, Paris would be transformed from vacuous  celebrity to the poster child for prisoner abuse.The law of unintended consequences would prevail.
    God forbid,Paris the martyr.

    Its a Probation Violation, what's the issue? (none / 0) (#4)
    by cdgib on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:21:01 PM EST
    I don't get the "she didn't deserve this" argument. The judge modified her probation, ordered her to serve time, and ordered she not get house arrest. I don't know the volume of Los Angeles County but my guess there are hundreds of these violations filed each month. Does the Sheriff bend over backwards for each of them?
    If I was the judge, I'd stick Paris and the Sheriff in custody as soon as they walked in my court and give them a nice contempt sentence to serve. Once she's done with that she can start on her original sentence.

    I was wondering how Paris was released (none / 0) (#5)
    by JSN on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:31:46 PM EST
    without a release order signed by a judge. I have no idea how the CA law defines custody so it is possible she is still in the custody of the sheriff.

    the sheriff said she wasn't released (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:54:15 PM EST
    she was "reassigned."  He changed the conditions of her confinement, not the fact of it.

    I thought (none / 0) (#6)
    by taylormattd on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:38:53 PM EST
    that the judge had specifically rejected her request for home confinement.

    Wouldn't the proper remedy if the jail didn't have the right medicine be to transport her to a hospital under confinement?

    then the taxpayers (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:53:32 PM EST
    would be paying for her hospital care. Maybe the sheriff wanted to avoid that.  

    The sherriff certainly wanted to avoid (none / 0) (#10)
    by clio on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 11:07:00 PM EST
    paying for her medical care.  I have waited to transport jailed inmates to inpatient beds while the paper work releasing them from custody and absolving the jail system of financial responsibility was completed.  Since many (most) inmates are medically indigent this little charade only shifts the burden - usually onto Medicaid.

    Medial indigence is not the case here, but I wonder if this inmate's unlimited financial ability to sue for "mistreatment" may have played a role. Even if such cases are dismissed there would be costs and publicity.  Otherwise I can't understand this.  The system treats ordinary inmates, even those who are wealthy but not in the public eye, with calculated medical negligence, as Peter G mentions below.  Not eating is minor - many inmates don't at first.  As far as incorrect medicine: believe me, no one in the system cares much.

    Not saying that's right.  Strongly don't think it is.  But Paris is getting special treatment here.  

    Agree with other compliments on your advocacy for Paris.  Wish the system was as responsive to others.



    Lack of Appropriate Meds in Prison (none / 0) (#9)
    by Peter G on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:57:32 PM EST
    I'm very impressed to see -- if it's so -- that under Calif law if the prison or jail doesn't have the particular psychiatric medication that your doctor has prescribed, the sheriff can substitute home confinement for jail.  I wish that were so in the federal prison system, where most of my clients are.  There, when you go in, they take your prescribed meds away and you are likely not to get any until their "doctor" prescribes you something (or not) from their formulary, pretty much without regard to your own doctor's orders.  The federal prisons -- and all the state prisons, too -- are full of mentally ill prisoners who are either not being prescribed meds, or are on the wrong meds.

    As for judge vs. sheriff.  I see no conflict.  The judge appears to have refused to sentence her to home confinement, as her lawyers had requested.  He did not order her not to be confined at home; he simply declined to order it himself, and instead ordered her into the custody of the sheriff. Under state law, it seems, the sheriff has discretion to select the place of incarceration, and home confinement, it seems, can under the law be one of those places.  If all of what I assume in this paragraph is in fact consistent with Calif. law, then there's nothing wrong here at all.  Except the initial imposition of a 45 day sentence, which for what she did seems excessive to me and possible the result of a judge grandstanding in a high-publicity case.

    A psychiatrist (none / 0) (#24)
    by killer on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 08:47:13 AM EST
    I know quit his job at Lompoc federal Penetentiary (as prison Psychiatrist)because new federal policy said no patient could be treated with psychoactive drugs for more than two months. He didn't want to be there when the meds wore off.

    This is both a lot more subtle and involved than (none / 0) (#11)
    by scribe on Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 11:10:10 PM EST
    "Paris' medicine isn't available to us to administer."

    I wrote a comment that got too long, so I put it in a diary, here.  Go read it.

    I did (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 01:48:42 AM EST
    But I disagree, as I've written in an update to this post.

    I understand your disagreement, but have two (none / 0) (#22)
    by scribe on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 07:16:00 AM EST

    1.  The kernel of the disagreement over the (now in futuro) result over the Sheriff's power stems from some ignorance (on my part, anyway*) over exactly what the powers of the Sheriff in LA County are vis-a-vis a court order.  Analogizing to the federal system, where the Bureau of Prisons gains jurisdiction over the inmate (and the District Court loses it) is only of limited utility because the organic act and Constitution establishing the lines separating the Bureau of Prisons' power from the District Court's are entirely different from the sources of authority in LA County.  The same goes for analogizing between LA and any other state's or county's laws.

    2.  Do you come to the same result where the Sheriff's deciding to not obey the sentence imposed by the judge makes for a(n arguably) more severe sentence - i.e., where Sheriff has decided the inmate will serve his entire sentence in one continuous lump (which will cause him to lose his employment, inter alia) rather than the legal periodic incarceration (as ordered by the Court) which would have permitted the inmate to keep his job?  Under either analysis, the inmate would serve the same number of days' incarceration, but the one the Sheriff chose is more convenient to him (and him alone) than the one the judge ordered.

    * And probably on the part of everyone wrestling with this issue - the organic acts and constitutional provisions are usually provisions of law which are obscure to all practitioners save the ones actually engaged in running the departments (or advising the people who do), so obscure that in most law libraries the spines of the books holding them are rarely even broken in.  
    I'm familiar with my state's provisions more because I represented the Sheriff a few years back in a jail conditions case (the one I referred to in my diary) than for any other reason.  I never would have had reason to read that title otherwise.

    i think since these types of issues (none / 0) (#23)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 07:41:52 AM EST
    vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction that we need someone with direct knowledge of California law and practice in LA.
      One of the reasons you need local counsel when you have a cese in a different jurisdiction (beside it being a rule) is the familiarity with these nuts and bolts statutes and procedures.

    Sherrif is an elected position (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 01:38:29 AM EST
    Much more beholden to campaign contributions than a judge.  This stinks of something very monitary.  If the rich are too precious to put behind bars, why ever bother in these cases?  Fine them millions and be done with it.  That is the only solution to these situations where equitable justice can be served.  Let them pay up their as*ses just like a normal person is with an average fine.

    I've Got a Much Better Solution (none / 0) (#14)
    by Aaron on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 03:25:16 AM EST
    Why don't we give everybody in the LA County Jail a break, everyone who has been charged with a similar crime, and received a similar sentence, everyone with 90 days or less lets say, should get to go home with a monitoring device.

    Spread the wealth I say, let's distribute this newfound benevolence and understanding of the Sheriff's Department to everyone languishing in that crappy place.  The shock value alone on the inmates will do more to boost spirits and cut down on recidivism than anything our county jails have done in the United States in decades.  We could create some genuine good will for the Sheriff's Department with this new kinder gentler philosophy, boost the stock prices of those ankle device companies whose salesman will be making big bonuses selling their wares, and give a large portion of the jail staff a paid summer holiday.

    We could coin a new phrase with this move, and call it "The Paris Hilton Sentencing Program". It will be like Christmas in May. All the homeless and indigent people who don't have a place to go will get to stay at Paris's house or Hilton Hotel for the remainder of their sentence, room service, extra towels and complementary drinks during happy hour for the alcoholics thrown into the deal. I'm sure the Hilton family will have no objection.

    We could reform the whole damn jail system with this, though I'm sure we'd need to be careful how we applied these programs or people would be out committing crimes in order to get their vacations.  :-)

    :-) :-) :-) :-) IT'S PARIS DAY :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) (none / 0) (#15)
    by Aaron on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 03:35:23 AM EST
    Let's party!

    :-) :-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

    Me so funny!


    interesting jeralyn (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 04:04:59 AM EST
    so, if i understand this correctly, all you need to escape actually serving time in jail is to be friends with the sheriff, or whoever in your jurisdiction has legal custody of you, once sentence has been pronounced?

    they get you, then immediatally "reassign" you, to your home, or aspen, whichever one has space available.

    i'd be curious to see how many other prisoners, in similar circumstances, in this sheriff's custody, have been similarly "reassigned" to home confinement? my uneducated guess? damn few, if any.

    of course, as big a flake as ms. hilton is, i can understand why he'd want to get her out of his immediate hair.

    ah justice, another bought and sold commodity.

    note: (none / 0) (#17)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 04:08:36 AM EST
    don't get me wrong, i don't think ms. hilton should be treated like some serial killer, clearly she isn't. that's not the point.

    if you're going to make an example of someone (which is the case here, regardless of what anyone says to the contrary), do it right, or don't waste everyone's time.

    I wonder what her... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 06:44:32 AM EST
    psychiatric drug is.

    Who knew you could get high in jail with the assistance of the dispensary, and be released to house arrest if the dispensary doesn't have your drug.  You guessed it...I'm not a big believer in psychiatric pharmacology.  

    Will incarcerated people with medical mj scripts be released, or will California jails provide the reefer for them? Thats what I'm dying to know.

    Anyway, if I ever get pinched, I'll have to remember to get a script for some very obscure very expensive drug.  It could be a get out of jail free card.

    She couldn't her meds, so what? (none / 0) (#20)
    by cdgib on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 07:04:16 AM EST
    It sounds like most of us are defense attorneys of one sort or another and I'm sure we've all had clients who have been "reassigned" to jail from supervised probation, who needed meds or some other sort of specific treatment, or who had long standing appointments for disability hearings, or other benefits; and we've all argued the hell out of them only to have the judge casually say "no legal excuse, do your time." Maybe I have been doing it all wrong all these years. Maybe I should have just been cultivating a relationship with the Sheriff.

    I can tell you around here that those too sick to stay in jail, which are few and far between, are sent to the state mental hospital while still in custody, stay there in many cases longer than their original sentence and then shipped back to do their original sentence.

    I read the City Attorney's motion and I bought his argument that the judge specifically ordered that Ms. Hilton not be sent to house arrest. He looked like he had case law and statutory authority on his side.

    I think it falls under the "duck" test; if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its a double standard.

    For Paris's Own Good (none / 0) (#21)
    by Aaron on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 07:12:22 AM EST
    I'd like to make a point concerning the ethics and morality involved in this case.  I think that many of you miss the point of inflicting punishment for the transgressions which Paris has committed.  No offense intended, but defense attorneys are paid to get their clients off, regardless of guilt or innocence.  A good defense attorney can get you acquitted of DUI or genocide on a global scale, with no regard to whether you have actually committed such crimes, that is their job, and that's where their job ends.

    But if you are guilty, is your defense attorney in actuality helping you, are they really acting in your best interest.  It's an important question, that we too often ignore in our adversarial system, where winning is everything.

    Socrates believed that punishment itself was intended first and foremost for the good of the offender, and proper punishment would actually help a person to become a better human being by leading to correction of improper behavior.  Punishment that was purely punitive, and did not lead to moral growth, he believed was antithetical to improving an individual's character and the betterment of society, and therefore immoral.

    In that light I would like everyone to consider these two points from the article,

    After she failed a field sobriety test, Hilton had her license suspended but continued to drive, violating the terms of her probation.

    She was pulled over three times by officers from three different law enforcement agencies during her suspension.

    It seems that the judge in sentencing her to 45 days, was genuinely interested in trying to discourage her from engaging in this kind of behavior, specifically the initial offense which was driving under the influence, for which she had her license suspended. Yet she chose to defy that court order and continue to drive, perhaps even under the influence of alcohol at times as well.

    So if she couldn't be discouraged from driving through a simple suspension, the judge took the next step and gave her jail time. That jail time was halved, and then done away with in favor of Paris being confined to her residence. When Paris 's sentence is up, and her driving privileges are reinstated, there is a possibility that she will drink alcohol in excess and get behind the wheel of her car again. If this occurs, perhaps she will be arrested again, or perhaps she will be involved in an accident, that could result in the death and injury of herself or others.

    If that happens, who is ultimately responsible? Paris of course because it would be her decision to get behind the wheel of her car after she's been drinking, but it would also be largely the responsibility of the legal system and our society, for our failure to impress upon her the importance of discontinuing such dangerous behavior.

    The justice system is always a balancing act, should we incarcerate a young woman in the hopes of changing her behavior, or should we continue to overlook this behavior until she does terrible harm to herself and others, perhaps ruining or ending her life and the lives of others?  If that occurs, wouldn't we as a society you complicit in the harm that is done?

    I know what Socrates would say, and I know where I come down on this issue.  I want Paris to suffer a bit now, so that she will not have to suffer much more horribly later.  I'm willing to punish her, the way a parent punishes an errant child, for only one reason, so that she may perhaps survive and grow to become a more moral and considerate person whose personal freedoms are tempered with a consideration for the freedoms and safety of others.

    You raise valid points (none / 0) (#25)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 09:28:36 AM EST
     and I think you understand the lawyer's role and obligation and the limits. My job is to represent my client-- not to seek justice, uncover the truth, or even to further what I might think is in my client's best interest. My job is to counsel my client as to the options and then with the informed consent of my client seek the best legal outcome possible with the option my client chose. And, absolutely, the best "legal outcome" is not always synonymous with the "best interests" of my client in a broader sense.

     However, that's not because the adversary system is all about winning. It's because the adversary system is premised on the defendant being represented by someone seeking what that person wants not what the representative thinks might be best for the client.   The client gets to decide that and unsurprisingly few clients decide a harsher than attainable punishment is what they want.

      If I'm not doing my client's bidding then no one is and it's no longer an adversary system and my client, who is already facing the full power and resources of the State, is unable to effectively assert his rights and challenge the authority of the state.

       My personal views on a multitude of matters do not and should not influence my representation. Those include my belief as to the guilt or innocence of my client, the degree of my client's culpability and my idea of appropriate punishment, my belief as to what remedial measures might help my client as a person, my beliefs as to the larger significance of a particular case or the law that might be made as a result, the risks and costs to society of certain outcomes and on and on.

      That does not mean I don't think those are important. It means simply that by choosing to do what I do I have taken an oath to put aside those considerations in recognition that those are for other people to determine while I do everything legal and ethical to serve my client. If I am confronted with a situation where I can't do that then it is my duty not to take the case.

       I've said before that criminal defense is not for those who cannot tolerate a degree of moral ambiguity. I can tolerate it. That does not mean I have not been troubled by some things that have happened during my career. For example, I have "gotten people off" and then they committed crimes that would not have occurred if they had been imprisoned. I don't deny "responsibility" for that because it is true that "but for" my "getting them off" the crimes would not have occurred but it is a responsibility I am willing  to accept in pursuit of what I consider a necessary foundation for a free society.

       I can't dismiss the consequences and I can understand people who disagree with me that those consequences-- even tragic ones on the individual level -- are outweighed  by the need for an ever-present and vigilant counterweight to the might of the State.

       I won't deny that I am highly competitive and like to win and there is no question that trait is one of the things that led me down my chose career path, but  it's not all about winning and losing cases. There are fundamental notions of justice and the needs of society involved.


    Thanks deconstructionist for your frank input (none / 0) (#26)
    by Aaron on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 10:47:16 AM EST
    I completely respect what criminal defense attorneys do, and in fact think there's a kind of purity to your job in particular which other aspects of the legal profession often seem to lack.  I also believe that the kind of focus you allude to is entirely necessary in our system. If I were in trouble, I would want my lawyer to utilize every ounce of energy and skill at their command with laserlike focus in my defense.  Sadly too often I've seen the opposite end of this spectrum, with attorneys who are just going through the motions.  You can tell their heart just isn't it it any more, if it ever was.  In this case I imagine that Paris had a team of lawyers who were well motivated in her defense.

     I just wanted to make a point about the moral ramifications of avoiding punishment, and how an individual's internal morality is so often left out of the equation when discussing these things..  In this case specifically, the defendant has been adjudicated or pled guilty, after proper representation, received the sentence of the court, and then seemingly avoided that judgment in a way that could quite possibly lead to dire consequences, consequences which may have been avoided, had that individual accepted her punishment and attempted to learn something from the experience.

     I think the children of privilege appear to get away with things that others do not, and people think that this makes their lives better and easier, as I wrote in an earlier comment, but perhaps that is a mistaken impression.  One way or another we all seem to end up paying for what we do.  In my experience the Blind Lady seems to catch up most everyone sooner or later.  Perhaps it's better to pay for your transgressions upfront as opposed to deferring them to a later date until an avalanche of your misdeeds squashes you.

    if the sheriff (none / 0) (#27)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 01:11:55 PM EST
    has that much power, why even bother having a judge do the sentencing? seems to me that once a guilty verdict is rendered, you just hand them off to the sheriff, to do with as he/she will, since many of you claim that power is already vested in the position.

    myself, i don't recall giving that authority to the sheriff. i suspect our legislature would be equally surprised to learn that local sheriff's can ignore court orders with impunity.