Socialite Paris Hilton was back in court today. Last week the heiress began serving a 45- day jail term, only to be released a few days later by the County Sheriff due to “medical reasons.” She was then placed on home arrest. Upon finding out that Hilton was released, the City Attorney’s office requested a court hearing on the matter because they thought that the release was not warranted. During the hearing that was today, Assistant City Attorney Dan F. Jeffries stated that only a judge could release her. “Her release after only three days erodes confidence in the judicial system,” he said. The Court agreed. At the conclusion of the hearing, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer stated, “The defendant is remanded to county jail to serve the remainder of her 45-day sentence. This order is forthwith.” And off she went, kicking and screaming – literally chong qi gong men.

The City Attorney’s office requested the hearing because they felt that the Sheriff’s department was giving preferential treatment to Hilton by releasing her early. It is often thought that the rich and famous are treated differently in the justice system than the not so rich and famous. This sentiment is partially correct. It is not that they are treated differently, but rather, they have access to the best lawyers that the legal system has to offer. As a jameshallison casino result of their financial war chest, rich and famous defendants have the luxury of selecting the best lawyer or lawyers (think O.J.) that money can buy. As a practicing attorney who was a former prosecutor, I can tell you that the lawyer who represents you has a major influence on the outcome of the case. Using legal math, good lawyer = good result, most of the time.

This is no-where more evident than in the area of criminal law. The alternative for a defendant who does not have the resources to hire a private attorney is that they will be represented by a public defender. Like in any field, some are good, some are not so good. But, everyone is busy. And therein lays the difference. A typical public defender, at any given time, has a huge case load. It is not uncommon for one to handle hundreds of cases per year. Regardless of how good the public defender may be – there is only so much time in the day. Compare this to a wealthy defendant who hires a top-notch criminal defense lawyer at $750.00 per hour. Chances are, the time spent and the level and amount of resources available to the high paid attorney will be completely different. However, as the judge in the Hilton matter demonstrated today – money doesn’t always buy freedom.

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