STILL MORE ON THE SENTENCE FOR PARIS HILTON

June 21, 2007

For even those who have not the slightest interest in Paris Hilton, there is still an important issue in the latest news. The issue is: What is an appropriate punishment.? This is always an important issue in public life. It is the issue in every single criminal charge filed or contemplated for filing. It is the issued faced by every jury in Oklahoma because in Oklahoma, it is the jury which decides punishment in every jury trial, that is if the jury finds the defendant guilty at the conclusion of the trial.

There has been a lot of public commentary about whether Paris Hilton deserved a sentence of several months in jail for her arrest for driving with a suspended license. Those who think she is a spoiled brat point to her claim she did not know her license was suspended, that she did not even show up on time for court, that everything about her says she gets preferential treatment all her life and now it’s time for her to face the music. These people are sure that Paris Hilton deserves 90 days in the electric chair.

Those more sympathetic to Paris Hilton’s situation point out that others faced with this charge would ordinarily receive a sentence of straight probation. They say Paris Hilton is being punished excessively for who she is rather than what she did.

Now comes an interesting wrinkle, as there often is where great media attention is focused. The press always seems to find something more when the story is at the top of the news. Now it comes out that the Los Angeles prosecutor who was in charge of prosecuting Paris Hilton for this charge of Driving on a Suspended License has a personal experience with this very charge. At least his wife did. Michelle Delgadillo, wife of Rocky Delgadillo, the prosecutor in the Paris Hilton case, pleaded guilty on June 21, 2007, to the same misdemeanor charge of which Paris Hilton was convicted: Driving with Suspended License. But, unlike Paris Hilton, Mrs. Delgadillo, received a one-year suspended sentence.

Mrs. Delgadillo was not on probation like Paris Hilton was. Instead Mrs. Delgadillo’s license had been suspended for failure to have insurance when she had a wreck. But that was 9 years ago. Mrs. Delgadillo was 9 years late in facing the charge. Mrs. Delgadillo failed to appear in court in 1998, and a warrant had been outstanding since that time. Paris Hilton was only 20 minutes late for court.

So, now who is receiving preferential treatment?