The Los Angeles County sheriff’s office will explain today to the county’s board of supervisors why socialite Paris Hilton was released just three days into her sentence for violating probation after a drunken-driving conviction, says the Christian Science Monitor. A local campaign to recall Sheriff Lee Baca for gross mismanagement points to the challenges of meting out celebrity justice.
Hilton’s case gives the public a truer lens on the pressures placed on judges, courts, and jailers when a high-profile case is before them. At stake is public confidence in the justice system, which can take a hit if citizens conclude that different rules apply to celebrities. “We are such a celebrity-driven society that when a celebrity gets into trouble – whether it’s Mel Gibson with an anti-Semitic rant or a Lindsay Lohan or a Paris Hilton for drunk driving – the system itself is put in the spotlight,” says Ralph Stein, a professor at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, N.Y. Stein maintains that with much media attention, most offficials “err on the side of too much constraint to prove they are not being preferential.”