*video of sherriff's officers escorting Milton to courthouse downtown
LOS ANGELES, June 8, 2007 - Paris Hilton was taken from a courtroom screaming and crying on Friday after a judge ordered her returned to jail to serve out her entire 45-day sentence for a parole violation in a reckless driving case.
Hilton, appearing to be in handcuffs, cried after she was placed into a black-and-white patrol car, which sped away from her home with lights flashing as news helicopters pursued, broadcasting live TV coverage.
The car carrying her disappeared into the courthouse's underground parking lot, avoiding a swarm of news media, and her parents then arrived.
In the hearing, which began at late morning, a judge was to listen to the city attorney's complaint that the county sheriff did not have the right to reassign her to electronically monitored home detention after only three days in jail for violating probation in a reckless driving case.
On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer ordered that Hilton be brought to Friday's hearing. But early Friday a court spokesman announced that she would be allowed to participate by telephone, which is common in misdemeanor cases. Then, in a reversal, the spokesman said the judge had ordered the Sheriff's Department to pick her up and bring her to court.
The frenzy began early Thursday when sheriff's officials released Hilton because of an undisclosed medical condition and sent her home under house arrest. She had been in jail for three days.
Hilton was fitted with an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet and was expected to finish her 45-day sentence for a reckless driving probation violation at her four-bedroom, three-bath home.
The decision by Sheriff Lee Baca to move Hilton chafed prosecutors and Sauer, who spelled out during sentencing that Hilton was not allowed to serve house detention.
Late Thursday, Sauer issued the order for Hilton to return to court after the city attorney filed a petition demanding that Hilton be returned to jail and to show cause why Baca shouldn't be held in contempt of court.
Baca does not have to be in court, and it was unclear who would represent the Sheriff's Department.
The move also was met with outrage from the sheriff's deputies union, members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, civil rights leaders, defense attorneys and others.
"What transpired here is outrageous," county Supervisor Don Knabe told The Associated Press, adding he received more than 400 angry e-mails and hundreds more phone calls from around the country.
Hilton's return home "gives the impression of ... celebrity justice being handed out," he said.
Baca dismissed the criticism, saying the decision was made based on medical advice.
"It isn't wise to keep a person in jail with her problem over an extended period of time and let the problem get worse," Baca told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
"My message to those who don't like celebrities is that punishing celebrities more than the average American is not justice," Baca said.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown criticized the Sheriff's Department for letting Hilton out of jail, saying he believed she should serve out her sentence.
"It does hold up the system to ridicule when the powerful and the famous get special treatment," Brown told The Associated Press in an interview before testifying at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C.
"I'm sure there's a lot of people who've seen their family members go to jail and have various ailments, physical and psychological, that didn't get them released," he said. "I'd say it's time for a course correction."
The Los Angeles County jail system is so overcrowded that attorneys and jail officials have said it is not unusual for nonviolent offenders like Hilton to be released after serving as little as 10 percent of their sentences.
In the hours after Hilton's release, it was a madcap scene outside her house in the hills above the Sunset Strip. As word spread that the 26-year-old poster child for bad celebrity behavior was back home, radio helicopter pilots who normally report on traffic conditions were dispatched to hover over her house and describe it to morning commuters. Paparazzi photographers on the ground quickly assembled outside its gates.
Shortly before noon, Hilton issued a statement through her attorney.
"I want to thank the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and staff of the Century Regional Detention Center for treating me fairly and professionally," she said. "I am going to serve the remaining 40 days of my sentence. I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes."
Hilton's path to jail began Sept. 7, when she failed a sobriety test after police saw her weaving down a street in her Mercedes-Benz on what she said was a late-night run to a hamburger stand.
She pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced to 36 months' probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines.
In the months that followed she was stopped twice by officers who discovered her driving on a suspended license. The second stop landed her in Sauer's courtroom, where he sentenced her to jail.
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