Paris Hilton dragged back into court

Judge to hear case for 'reassignment'

Paris Hilton will later today appear before the judge who sentenced her to 23 days' jail for violating probation on a drink-drive rap at a hearing to decide whether she should indeed be allowed to do the remainder of her sentence under house arrest.

Hilton was released yesterday from Century Regional Detention Centre in Lynwood, California, for unspecified "medical reasons", having completed just three days of her stretch. She is currently sporting a GPS ankle bracelet and is confined to within 2,000 to 3,000 feet of her Hollywood pad.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore explained yesterday: "After extensive consultation with medical personnel, it was decided this reassignment should be done."

Whitmore added that Hilton would be confined to quarters for 40 days, after which she will have "fulfilled her debt to society".

Reaction to the highly-talented heiress's uncaging has been predictable enough. Civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton slammed the move as demonstrating the US legal system's "double standards". He said: "This early release gives all of the appearances of economic and racial favouritism that is constantly cited by poor people and people of colour. There are any number of cases of people who handle being incarcerated badly and even have health conditions that are not released."

New York civil liberties lawyer E Christopher Murray, however, reckoned "house arrest was a more appropriate sentence for a celebrity". He offered: "Sentencing Paris to jail for an extended period of time was an example of a celebrity being treated more harshly than an average person."

Harsh or not, the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney is evidently none too impressed with Hilton's release. It yesterday filed a petition "demanding LA's Superior Court to show why Sheriff Lee Baca should not be held in contempt of court for releasing Ms Hilton".

Jeffrey Isaacs, head of the office's Criminal Branch, said: "The decision whether or not Ms Hilton should be released early and placed on electronic monitoring should be made by Judge Sauer, and not the Sheriff's Department."

Hilton is due to appear before Judge Sauer at 9am local (4pm GMT) today. He will doubtless decide how best to help Hilton "reflect on her life, to see what she can do to make the world better", as her lawyer put it after her tearful first night in chokey. ®

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