CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CrimProf Stan Goldman Weighs in on Young Hollywood Cases

GoldmanFrom Scholars such Loyola Law School CrimProf Stan Goldman are now studying Paris Hilton and other young Hollywood celebrities.

Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but what began as fascination with a celebrity gone haywire turned into an honest-to-goodness, serious legal issue. And it also raises questions and concerns for anyone who may have to deal with high-profile cases or who would like to get a lower profile legal wrangle into the news media.

As the cable news networks covered Ms. Hilton’s June journey to court from the street and the air, a real legal issue emerged (giving us a chance to write about one of the wackiest celebrity meltdown stories ever). The esteemed legal journal E! Online quoted Stan Goldman, professor of criminal law at Loyola University Law School, wondering whether the Paris dustup might set a new legal precedent. E! included this quote in its coverage:

“It’s really bizarre that the most frivolous person in the Western world in the most frivolous case in which she didn’t know she has a license to drive might end up creating precedent that could affect thousands of prisoners and where they’re housed and how they’re housed for years to come.”

One has to wonder how much discussion took place inside the offices of the Hilton legal team about either the applicable legal issues or issues related to the inevitable media coverage. The legal issue as to whom, the judge or the sheriff, has the ultimate authority over decisions regarding housing of misdemeanor inmates came to a quick resolve—the judge asserted his authority in no uncertain terms.

But, the outcome to the underlying question—where does media coverage properly affect legal decisions—poses a far more difficult dilemma. Did the attorneys underestimate the media coverage, subsequent talking head reaction and the public’s anger? Absolutely. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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