Trouble at the Prosecutorial Hilton and the Two Americas

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While the Duke Non-Rape, Non-Kidnapping, and Non-Sexual Assault Case has resulted in the ouster of the miscreant Michael B. Nifong from his prosecutorial office in Durham, North Carolina, on the other side of the country it seems that the spirit of Nifongism lives on. Furthermore, if justice truly is going to be served — and this Nifong case has placed prosecutors on notice — then either a prosecutor or his wife is going to have to share a cell with the recently-jailed Paris Hilton.

Now, even with The Nifong Show playing at full tilt in North Carolina, nothing has captured the public’s attention more than the Paris Hilton affair in Los Angeles. Yes, please spare me the "she broke the law and must pay the consequences" nonsense. I suspect that had her name been Paris Jones, she would have spent almost no time in jail, and perhaps none at all.

However, since she was driving with a revoked license, perhaps Ms. Hilton might want to change her name to Michelle Delgadillo, the wife of the prosecutor who went after Hilton, Rocky Delgadillo. It seems that Ms. Delgadillo has a similar driving record to the errant Paris, and I can say with certainty that I would not want to be a passenger in an automobile that either of them are driving — if I value my life.

In a recent news account, we have learned the following:

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo got Paris Hilton jailed for violating probation for driving with a suspended license, then condemned her early release. Now, he says he’s embarrassed about the outstanding bench warrant for his wife, Michelle, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Rocky Delgadillo said he didn’t know about it until this week and has urged his wife to remedy the situation.

“My wife is embarrassed about this, and I am embarrassed as well,” he said.

The couple also has been chronically late in paying fines for at least five parking tickets in the last three years, the newspaper reported. One violation for parking in a red zone in December 2006 was not paid until the newspaper inquired about the tickets last month, by which time the $70 infraction had become a $174 fine with penalties.

However, as they say on late-night TV, "Wait, there’s more!"

On Monday, Delgadillo apologized for keeping quiet about a 2004 accident in which his wife crashed his city-issued vehicle while driving on a suspended license. Delgadillo said he was reimbursing the city for the $1,222 repair.

The prosecutor has said Michelle Delgadillo’s offenses are not comparable to those of Hilton, who is serving a 45-day sentence for violating her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.

In the latest disclosure, Michelle Delgadillo said she was “very embarrassed” and was working to resolve the arrest warrant issue as soon as possible.

“I will do whatever the court instructs me to do. I apologize for any embarrassment this has caused my husband and family,” she said in a statement to the newspaper.

One can be sure that Ms. Delgadillo is not going to have to worry about spending several weeks in a cell or having to be humiliated in front of a judge. After all, she is not Paris Hilton, and in this land of Two Americas, anyone who might have been born with a silver or even gold spoon by definition is an Enemy of the People. Thus, even though it is clear that Hilton’s blue Bentley was targeted by police and that she was treated much more harshly than is the situation with most people, anything less than having her hanged, drawn, and quartered for driving without a driver’s license is not good enough.

Yes, Paris Hilton no doubt is not someone I would want one of my sons to marry, nor do I admire people who make porn videos of themselves having graphic sex. But that is beside the point here. Paris Hilton does not operate in my universe, nor is she someone who generally is going to occupy space in my head.

The issue, however, is not Paris Hilton nor her sex life, nor even her driving record. The issue is this: Her case proves to me that mob justice rules in the United States of America. Furthermore, it also demonstrates to me that prosecutors generally get a free pass when it comes to breaking the law.

Yes, that is a bold statement to make after spending a week watching Michael Nifong making very public trips to the woodshed and being disbarred and unceremoniously kicked out of his office. However, Nifong is just one prosecutor, and it took millions of dollars (tax dollars, I must add) and a Herculean effort on behalf of a number of people just to deal with his obvious lawbreaking.

Furthermore, Nifong only has lost his law license and his job. He has not lost his freedom, despite lying to judges, withholding evidence, committing perjury, suborning perjury, engaging in obstruction of justice, and the like. In fact, there currently are no criminal investigations that are going on, despite the fact that he was an in-your-face lawbreaker, and someone whose crimes did not involve peacefully driving a luxury car, but rather attempting to subvert the system of justice and knowingly send three innocent people to prison for 30 years.

Compare the troubles of Paris Hilton to those of Nifong and ask yourself who is the greater lawbreaker. For that matter, compare Paris Hilton to Michelle Delgadillo and ask yourself who has been more flagrant in breaking the law. Yet, Nifong collects a state pension, Delgadillo makes excuses, and Hilton sits in jail.

Of course, there was the public outcry when she first was let out of jail after four days and given house arrest. Never mind that there were good reasons for doing so. (It seems that Ms. Hilton realized that because any guard — male or female — could look into her cell through a window, a guard also could take pictures of her sitting on the toilet and then sell the pictures to the tabloids for thousands of dollars. Now, I doubt anyone would want to take pictures of me on the john — or even Nifong, for that matter — but someone like Hilton is a different story.)

Thus, it is time to allude to my title. Yes, there are Two Americas, but not the two of which the pathetic John Edwards speaks. (He lives in a $5 million house — while criticizing others who are wealthy, so that is all we need to know about him.)

No, there truly are Two Americas, the one of government employees and politicians who are protected even while engaging in the worst kind of lawbreaking, and the other being the America in which the rest of us live. Now, I really could not care less if Paris Hilton is driving her blue Bentley around Beverly Hills when the government says she cannot do so.

However, I do care when prosecutors’ wives are permitted to flaunt the law and receive a free pass, and when prosecutors themselves can commit felony after felony and be treated as though they are "protecting" the people. The state of affairs to which Edwards points is imaginary, in my opinion.

But the Two Americas to which I point is very real. The Delgadillo example is small, but nonetheless telling. I can assure you that Michelle Delgadillo is not going to have to worry about a male guard leering at her while she is sitting on a toilet.

June 22, 2007

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services.

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