This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," May 5, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, punching back:
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PARIS HILTON: I feel that I was treated unfairly and that the sentence is both cruel and unwarranted and I don't deserve this.
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VAN SUSTEREN: Paris Hilton will fight her 45-day jail sentence. And that just in, Paris will appeal. Are you surprised? Harvey Levin, managing editor of the Web site TMZ.com went "On the Record" a short time ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: Good evening, Harvey.
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: Hi, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Harvey, I read on TMZ.com that she has — that Paris Hilton has fired her publicist.
LEVIN: Well, it's unclear whether she fired Elliot Mintz or whether Elliot Mintz fell on the sword. But I can tell you, I know him. He is such a good man. I mean, he really is a good, decent person. And I think Elliot is trying to deflect blame from Paris Hilton, and that's just kind of the way he rolls.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, he actually testified on Friday to try to help her out of her mess, didn't he.
LEVIN: Yes. And you know, it's really interesting. We were the ones that broke the story when she was first stopped for driving on the suspended license. And we called Elliot, and Elliot actually said that to us. And he does not lie. And when he said that to us — Look, you know, she doesn't have a suspended license — I realized that he really believed that at the time. So I think a lot of what Elliot said, he truly believed.
And the bottom line to this case was the judge said it didn't matter. Paris Hilton got a notice that said she was driving on a suspended license. It was sitting in her car on one of the stops. And she was trying to deflect blame and she just couldn't do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: So why do you think he — I mean, why would he have been in a position to tell her that her license wasn't suspended?
LEVIN: I think, you know, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. And in California, it is a little bit complicated because the courts can suspend a license, but the DMV can do it, too. And if the court doesn't but the DMV did, and he's looking at the court case, you know, it can happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: So are you saying that Paris Hilton may legitimately have been confused? Are you somewhat, you know, sympathetic to her position that she really didn't realize she was driving after a suspension?
LEVIN: Are you really asking me that question, could Paris Hilton legitimately be confused? Do you want to take that back?
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know what I mean! Come on, Harvey.
LEVIN: I know what you mean.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you a little sympathetic?
LEVIN: I think there were plenty of warning signs that Paris Hilton had, especially since she had been stopped once and then was stopped a couple weeks later, that she did not have the right to drive.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does this arrest or going to jail for 45 days, assuming it is even 45 days — and we'll get to that — does this hurt her career or not?
LEVIN: I think it helps her career. I think it absolutely is the best thing for her career since the sex tape, and I mean that, because the biggest thing for a celebrity in this town, especially one who doesn't have a whole lot of credits, is being relevant. And Paris Hilton was viewed by some, if not many, as this kind of frivolous person who went to nightclubs every night. And now she's going to jail, and it is just a more important kind of a thing. It doesn't mean that it's a good thing, but people are going to be following it. It's a curiosity, and it has made her relevant in public and pop culture.
VAN SUSTEREN: Harvey, she got 45 days. She happens to have two great lawyers, Howard Weitzman and Sean Chapman (ph), who I know pretty well. Sean's a great lawyer, too. They filed an appeal of this. Are they likely to win? You're also a lawyer. What are the odds on this on, that they'll get it reduced?
LEVIN: Slim to none. Howard Weitzman is a great lawyer, and so is Sean. But they really have to prove that this judge abused his discretion, and that's just not going to happen here. I mean, the woman was stopped twice on a suspended license, and you know, the appellate judges are going to be deferential to a judge who hears a case like this. I just don't see it happening, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: She's supposed to report by June 5. Will she surprise us and go early?
LEVIN: I don't think so. I mean, I don't think — I don't think she's going to go to jail early. That's just not in her DNA that she's going to go to jail, you know, sooner than she has to. I think she's going to push this as far as she can push.
VAN SUSTEREN: And her mother? How's her mother going to react to this? We've already seen her mother or heard about her mother in court.
LEVIN: You know, look, I'm not trying to dump on the Hiltons here, but Kathy Hilton, her mom, has really kind of, you know, been behind Paris as this, quote, "free spirit," going back to junior high school when Paris Hilton wore a thong to school a bunch of times and the teacher started complaining, and Kathy Hilton, I'm told, just kind of laughed it off. So Kathy Hilton in some ways has kind of encouraged Paris to break the rules, and now it's come home to roost.
VAN SUSTEREN: Harvey, thank you. TMZ.com is where we'll all get the latest. Thank you, Harvey.
LEVIN: Bye, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jail or no jail? That's the Paris Hilton question tonight. Let's bring in our legal panel. In New York, former Westchester County judge and district attorney Jeanine Pirro, and in Tampa, criminal defense lawyer Jeff Brown.
Jeanine, I have a copy the notice of appeal filed just hours — a short time after the judge said, You're going to get 45 days. What are the odds that Paris Hilton is going to win her appeal and either have her sentence tossed out or reduced?
JEANINE PIRRO, FORMER WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y., DA: Slim to none, Greta. There is no basis for this appeal. And I have tell you, as a former judge myself, you know, when I hear a defendant say, Well, gee, I really didn't know what the sentence was or what the conditions of probation were and try to pin it on my publicist, that would make me even angrier because that signals to me that not only were you irrespective and irresponsive to my order, but you really didn't care in the first place to find out what it was.
Here you've got someone convicted of driving under the influence, stopped by the police on a suspended license not once but twice. You have an obligation, at this point, to make this woman responsible. She's no different than anyone else. And her publicity, her notoriety is no defense. Period. End of the story.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, I certainly don't have a lot of sympathy for someone who drives around in a car with alcohol and even with headlights off, although apparently, that wasn't done at the same time. Nonetheless, I've made a few phone calls out to L.A., and I am told that 45 days is far greater than what someone similarly situated would get. Someone usually gets anywhere from 5 to 10 days for this offense. She's going to be living in a 8-by-12-foot cell, wearing an orange jumpsuit, no cell phone, cold showers, the food is terrible, for 45 days. Do you have any sympathy for, or would you make an example out of her and give her 45 days, as well?
JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, in my point that I was going to make before this started, was I wanted to know what the sentencing practice was for this particular judge, if this was in line with the sentencings. Now as you told us, it's usually 5 to 10 days, yes, I am concerned. It's hard to be sympathetic for her, though, because of her conduct and the things she's said and the things her mom's said. But the justice and the law is supposed to be above that, and so I expect that out of our court. And I think the judge should have sentenced her accordingly, as he has others, and he should be blind. And I think the court should have been 5 to 10 days. Forty-five days...
VAN SUSTEREN: But here's the catch...
BROWN: ... even when I first heard it, I thought was a lot.
VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the catch, Jeff. Apparently, she got more days on that end, but unlike most people, at least — I don't know if it's true in California, but certainly here, where I practice — is that she is allowed to surrender. She wasn't simply taken from the courtroom to the jail. So she got — at least, it would appear under our standards here, she got special treatment as to when she has to go to jail.
BROWN: Yes, but a...
BROWN: No. We have suspended sentences in Florida and in federal court all the time. And I don't see anything wrong with that. If that's the policy there, I think they should re-look at that policy that you have to have them be taken in right away. I am concerned, though, that it is the 45 days. I do think that's a long sentence. I think that the more appropriate sentence would have been the 5 or 10 days and a lot of community service hours. I think that would have been really appropriate here.
PIRRO: But Jeff, the woman is convicted of driving under the influence. She gets the benefit of the doubt. She gets a suspended license, then caught not once but twice. You know, people look up to her. People — and part of the basis or rationale...
VAN SUSTEREN: That's not a reason to increase the sentence.
PIRRO: But wait a minute. Let me finish my thought. Part of the reason behind sentencing is not just rehabilitation, but it's deterrence. Young girls look up to her, and they think that in that kind of life, there's no accountability. There's no responsibility. And as a judge, we send a message whenever we sentence someone that no one is above the law, that no one gets special treatment.
BROWN: Yes, but they also talk about uniformity in sentencing. The federal sentencing guidelines...
BROWN: Let me speak now. The federal...
PIRRO: This isn't a federal...
BROWN: I know it isn't, but let me speak. The federal sentencing guidelines were passed years ago because they wanted uniformity. That was the single most important factor in sentencing. And that's all I'm saying here, is we should have uniformity.
BROWN: If everybody else is getting 5 to 10 days and she gets 45, that's wrong.
PIRRO: Forty-five days is within the statutory guidelines.
BROWN: I know that. But if that's not what people are getting, that's not uniformity. We want uniformity in sentencing.
PIRRO: It's legal. There's no requirement.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you...
BROWN: That doesn't mean it's uniform.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, when I was in law school, whether one liked it or not, that one of the other considerations in sentencing was to send a message to others, as long as it was within the statutory framework. When you have a high-profile client like this, I mean, is it legitimate to send a message to everyone out there who wants to drive and drink and even later...
BROWN: It's not.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... drive on a suspended license? You don't — you don't agree with that whole...
BROWN: I don't believe in — I don't believe in deterrence. I don't believe in it. I know Jeanine Pirro wants to believe in it. I don't believe in it. I've never seen it.
BROWN: There's just as much crime occurring. Deterrence does not work.
PIRRO: It is — it is the basis — one of the bases of sentencing. It's...
BROWN: But it doesn't work.
PIRRO: But let me finish. It's rehabilitation. It's deterrence. Whether you think it works or not is not relevant. What's relevant is that...
BROWN: Statistics show it doesn't work.
PIRRO: ... it's one of the requirements sentencing a defendant. You send a message to the rest of society. And here she is no different than anyone else. The sentence is within the law...
BROWN: That's uniformity! That's uniformity, if she's no different from everyone else.
PIRRO: The sentence is legal.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Thank you both.
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