Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Celeb Crime & Punishment

Despite coming from LA (more or less), I never cared all that much about celebrity gossip. I have to admit that I read a lot more of it now, but for a very nerdy reason. In addition to seeing the law everywhere I look in my own life, celebrity stories are usually chock full of interesting legal matters. I mean, just look at the Anna Nicole Smith Saga, my legal rhetoric prof who was a family lawyer found a million issues there.

As I was studying for Criminal Law today, one of the topics we addressed early in the semester was judicial equality. Should we ever take into consideration a person's character or potential when giving them sentences? Is there ever reason to treat people in the system differently? This naturally made me think of sentencing in celebrity cases and Paris Hilton.

I think everyone knows by now that Paris Hilton was sentenced to 45 days in a LA County jail for driving when her licensed was suspsended for a DUI. Although today Paris said "I am ready to face the consequences of violating probation...I do not expect to be treated better than anyone else who violated probation. However, my hope is that I will not be treated worse," her lawyers and annoying mother still cry injustice! They say many other celebrities have gotten lesser sentences as well as the opportunity to pay to stay at nicer jails. Petitions have been circulated, urging the Governator to pardon Paris. *rolls eyes* No wonder the rest of the country thinks we're nuts.

What annoys me the most about the argument about being treated unfairly is that her lawyer is comparing her to other celebrities who in most people's minds shouldn't special treatment at all. Out of all people in the world, celebrities have no excuse for their flagrant disregard of the law. Practically speaking, they should be the last people getting DUIs because they have enough money for personal drivers to chaffeur them around when they get wasted.

Plus, they know have papparazi following and thus their chances of getting caught are higher. But they keep doing it because they can, society and the judicial system lets them. First week of crim law we learned that one of the reasons why you punish people is to deter them and others generally.

Though part of me wants celebrities to be held a higher level because they are role models to kids (for better or worse) and they have so many privlidges that really give them no excuse to ever need to break the law, for now I'll just settle for equal justice.

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