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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Paris Hilton Back in Jail; Indicted Democratic Congressman Fires Back; Will Immigration Defeat Cost John McCain the White House?

Aired June 8, 2007 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
She began the week behind bars, and that is how she's ending it. We have always avoided even mentioning the name of the hotel heiress, because we could never figure out what she was famous for. But, today, the spectacle in Los Angeles became impossible to ignore.

A judge sent her back behind bars crying and screaming, though, reportedly, not kicking -- tonight, the latest twist in the story that is putting celebrity justice back on trial.

Also tonight, he's not crying or screaming; he's digging in. Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, accused of corruption, 16 counts, how does he explain that cold cash in the freezer? Tonight, he's fighting back. You will hear his side of the story.

And the death of the immigration bill, how bad a blow is it to John McCain's campaign? Some other campaigns certainly hope it hurts. The "Raw Politics" of immigration has become downright bloody.

All that ahead, but we begin with the virtual circus that exploded today in Los Angeles: a crying celebrity in handcuffs, media helicopters in the air, and a battle royal between an angry judge and a sheriff who, for a time, wouldn't follow the judge's orders.

Well, today, we saw it all.

Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she handcuffed? Yes, she was cuffed.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paris Hilton's journey back to jail started in handcuffs and a ride with sheriff deputies from her house to a waiting judge, who wanted to see her back in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up! Then keep backing up.

ROWLANDS: Photographers and reporters literally trampled each other, trying to get a glimpse of Hilton as she left. From the air, news helicopters showed the chaos outside the house, broadcasting every second of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Geez, look at these people. VICKY, VACATIONING NEW YORKER: I'm on vacation, and I thought I would see a little bit of this. I -- I almost got stamped over everyone, besides the -- the cars.

ROWLANDS: The media broadcast Hilton's ride through Los Angeles to the courthouse. Her parents followed behind in a black SUV, occasionally pulling alongside.

The scene was reminiscent of other only--in-California celebrity moments, including Michael Jackson's race to court in his pajamas and O.J.'s slow-speed Bronco chase.

HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: It's this fascination that goes way beyond the case itself. It's just kind of an event to watch. It's interesting.

ROWLANDS: The fascination over Hilton's case grew after she was released from jail and allowed to serve her sentence at home. Many people were outraged over what they thought was preferential treatment by the sheriff.

In court, the judge seemed to agree, ordering Hilton, as she sobbed, to serve the rest of her sentence behind bars.

ALLAN PARACHINI, COURT SPOKESPERSON: The judge heard arguments. He heard out the county council's office, representing the sheriff. He heard the defense. He heard the city attorney. He ruled that he was remanding Ms. Hilton to the sheriff's custody to serve the remainder of her sentence.

ROWLANDS: Late today, the sheriff blasted the judge's decision to send Paris Hilton to jail in the first place, saying, others in her situation would never have been treated as harshly by the court. Sheriff Baca also scoffed at claims that he was somehow giving her special treatment.

LEE BACA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: The only thing that I can detect is special treatment is the amount of her sentence, because, under our 10 percent early release program, she would not have served any time in our jail, or would have been directly put on home electric monitoring system. So, the special treatment, in a sense, is because -- appears to be her celebrity status. She got more time in jail.

ROWLANDS: Baca also defended his initial decision to let Hilton serve her sentence at home, saying county doctors told her him her mental condition was deteriorating. And he says now she will be in a special medical unit, indicating she may be a danger to herself.

BACA: I'm just going to keep her in a better facility for her condition, meaning that has a more intense form of medical support. And we will watch her behavior, so that there isn't anything that is harmfully done to herself by herself, which is a great concern to me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Ted Rowlands joins us now, along with Kara Finnstrom, who was in the courtroom earlier today covering the story for us.

Ted, how did Paris -- how did she react when she was ordered back to jail?

ROWLANDS: Well, not well. You saw her -- the photo of her weeping in the back of the squad car on the way to the jail, and, then, in court, broke down again, at one point asking for her mother and breaking down in tears, at one point, saying, apparently, this isn't fair.

How she will do from here on out is the question. And Sheriff Lee Baca brought it up. There seems to be genuine concern about her mental state, to the point where it sounds like they're concerned that she may do something to herself.

So, you listen to the sheriff, you get one story, and the judge, you get an entirely different one.

COOPER: Kara, you were inside the courtroom. What did you see? I mean, what did you hear? How visibly shaken was she?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for most -- well, for most of this hearing -- it was about an hour-long hearing -- she actually looked very composed. She came in. She was looking down.

You could tell she was distraught. She kind of shuffled in, and she looked a little disheveled. We could see that she was sobbing. But it wasn't until she heard that she was going back to jail that she had this emotional meltdown, if you will, where she was crying out to her mother, crying out that this wasn't right, and was actually led by deputies out of the courtroom.

It was at that point where you could see just how deeply she was affected by all of this.

COOPER: You said she was crying out for her mother. Do you know specifically what she said?

FINNSTROM: Just -- I -- she was just calling out, "Mother. Mother."

And she also cried out, "This isn't right."

All of this time, she's directing these comments back to her family, not really looking at the judge, not looking at anyone else, but almost making a connection with her family.

COOPER: And how -- how loudly was she talking?

FINNSTROM: She was screaming. I mean, she -- screaming and crying.

It was -- it was kind of -- it -- it wasn't out of control, I would say, because the deputies were there. And they very quickly got on all sides of her and took her out. But, for someone who had been so quiet during the first part of the proceedings, it was like it almost all the sudden hit home that she was going back.

COOPER: Ted, do we know where she is now?

ROWLANDS: Yes. She's right here me at the Twin Towers facility. It's -- she's in a medical unit that can adhere to her special needs, according to the sheriff. She's expected to stay here through the weekend.

And then I think they will see what happens. I suspect that she will be back in court, or her attorneys will be back in court next week -- 15 days left on the sentence. Whether or not she serves it remains to be seen.

COOPER: They're going to be filing an appeal on Monday; is that correct?

ROWLANDS: Correct. That's expected. She may be eligible for bail at that point. That adds something else to this equation.

And they may take it to a different court, a different judge. Of course, the judge today ruled and decided for himself. So, you remove him from the equation, in another ruling, you may get a different scenario, maybe not. But we should find out more early next week.

COOPER: Kara, the judge was obviously frustrated, angry, perhaps, with the sheriff's office. How -- how was he toward the defendant?

FINNSTROM: You know, he really didn't look at or address her during the trial. It was more of a legal drama that played out in that courtroom.

Really, we didn't hear anything from Paris. It was almost like she was Just quietly sitting there until after he rendered his decision. But you could see. You could hear it in his voice throughout the trial, that he was angry at the way this whole thing has unfolded, angry at the lack of communication. A couple things this morning he was kept out of the loop on.

And, at one point, he said: I know Mr. Baca has my phone number. So, I don't know why I didn't hear about this.

COOPER: Kara Finnstrom, Ted Rowlands, appreciate your reporting. Thanks.

No surprise the celebrity Web site TMZ has been following this story closely. They have been working their sources in Hollywood and beyond.

Earlier, I spoke to Harvey Levin, the managing editor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Harvey, the sheriff says that she was placed in his facility without him being warned of a medical condition. What is so wrong with her? I mean, she went out to some movie -- MTV Awards hours before she went into jail.

LEVIN: Well, you know, she has, at times, just looked like a carefree party girl. But there's something going on with her psychologically.

We know, Anderson, that her shrink visited her on Wednesday in jail, and then basically went to the sheriff's department and said, look, she is on the borderline of having a nervous breakdown.

COOPER: You think 45 days is too harsh a sentence for -- for what she did. Why?

LEVIN: This judge was a jerk. This judge sentenced her for who she is and not what she did. And that's an abuse of power. You don't give somebody 45 days when the average person gets two.

COOPER: And -- and what is the relationship between the judge and the sheriff, Sheriff Baca, because they -- at one point today, it seemed like the sheriff was saying, point blank, they are not going to fulfill what the judge wants in picking her up.

LEVIN: Absolutely.

Oh, they're at war. I mean, what happened there, the reason this was delayed for two hours, Anderson, we're told, is that the sheriff's department just refused to pick her up at her house and take her to court. Their position was, hey, we're entitled to deal with people in custody. Don't give us orders.

And the judge said, I'm giving you an order.

And it went back and forth like that, until the sheriff caved.

COOPER: Is it common for people to be released with similar offenses to home confinement because of overcrowding?

LEVIN: Well, more -- I will do one up on that one, Anderson.

It's common to just let them out outright, that people serve two days, and they're done. I mean, that's what normally happens.

COOPER: What can you tell us about this Twin Towers facility?

LEVIN: Well, she's in the medical wing of Twin Towers. That's the -- that's the place she actually surrendered, where there is some medical attention.

And, right now, the sheriff is boxed in. I mean, he's doing the best he can do. But he's hoping that she does OK there. I'm told she's not OK, by any means. And, ultimately, this is going to be appealed on Monday. We know there's going to be an appeal. And it will be up to an appellate court on whether she goes back to her home, under home confinement, or whether she has to serve out the sentence.

COOPER: But -- but, I mean, you say not OK. There are people on suicide watch in prisons. There are -- you know, they're -- they take away your belt. They take away your -- your shoelaces. They -- they -- they have you under observation.

So, I mean, it does -- a lot of people seeing this are just saying this is kind of surreal preferential treatment.

LEVIN: It's not unhappy and miserable. We're talking about a mental problem, Anderson, that it goes beyond being depressed.

And, you know, you have to look at not just the mental illness, but you have to look at the seriousness of the offense. If you have got somebody in there on a felony, and they're going to be there for, minimum, 16 months, because it's a violent felony, say, then, in a situation like that, you got to keep them in jail. And then you do send them to the psych ward.

But, if you have got somebody in a really low-level crime, and then you end up putting them in a place where there are a bunch of lunatics, you say, is that really what you want to do, which is basically destroy this person, almost like in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"? And the sheriff is saying, I don't want to do that.

COOPER: Harvey Levin, appreciate it. Thanks, Harvey.

LEVIN: Bye, Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The story has, of course, set off a storm of outrage across the country. Critics say it is another glaring example of a justice system that is, well, starstruck.

CNN's Randi Kaye has that angle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PARIS HILTON, CONVICTED OF PROBATION VIOLATION: And I hope that I'm an example to other young people when they make decisions.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Privileged and pampered, Paris Hilton has been given a bitter taste of how the other half lives, forced to follow a judge's order to come to court, handcuffed, made to serve out her sentence in jail, instead of her 2,700-square-foot West Hollywood mansion.

It's not the treatment the celebutante is used to, especially not in L.A. Justice may have been hard on Hilton, but that's certainly not the norm. Model Naomi Campbell mopped floors and cleaned toilets at a garbage depot after she assaulted her housekeeper. Mel Gibson was placed on three years probation and mandatory rehab for driving drunk.

Halle Berry paid a fine and performed community service for leaving the scene of an accident. Snoop Dogg got a suspended sentence and 800 hours of community service for gun and drug possession. Boy George swept New York streets for five days for filing a false police report.

And, then, there was O.J...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: Acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman, and M(r)MDNM¯.J., acquitted of child molestation charges, both found not guilty by juries, two controversial cases that left many Americans believing the rich and famous are the favored ones.

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I'm convinced that, if Paris Hilton was the daughter of a -- of a white worker in West Virginia in the coal mines or a black millionaire rapper, she would not be getting treated like this. There are class issues here. There's race issues here.

KAYE: Is Paris paying the price for all the celebs who have seemingly skated through the justice system? There are those who would say yes.

LEVIN: There's no sense you can make of that kind of a ruling. It's just so out of whack with reality. And she ended up serving about what anybody would serve, because the sheriff would have sprung anybody free.

KAYE (on camera): If that has you feeling Paris' pain, take heart. The heiress will reportedly spend the weekend in the jail's medical facility. And her lawyers are still on the case, trying their best to get their client released. And, so, the saga continues.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, it is a fact, of course, that the rich and famous, unlike most Americans, can afford to hire the best legal teams when they get into trouble.

When Michael Jackson was facing a long list of felonies, he turned to defense attorney Tom Mesereau, who won his client an acquittal.

Mr. Mesereau joins me now from Los Angeles.

What do you make of all this? What would you do, if you were Paris Hilton's attorney, at this point?

THOMAS MESEREAU, FORMER DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, I mean, they're in a difficult situation, because you have a judge who is not following the law and who is willing to undermine our sheriff's department. This judge absolutely has violated every procedure that applies to a situation like this. All her attorneys can do at this point is file an appeal, try and get her out on bail, as a misdemeanor permits one to do, and take it from there.

But I think the whole situation is a disgrace, because this judge undermined our sheriff and actually treated Paris Hilton far worse than anyone else would have been treated in this situation.

COOPER: You're saying the judge undermined the sheriff. The judge is saying the sheriff was undermining the judge. How -- how do you believe it was the other way around?

MESEREAU: Look, this sheriff has to run the most crowded jail in America. He has limited resources to do it. And he's operating under a federal order that he not overcrowd.

This judge knows darn well, because he's in the criminal justice system, that people convicted of crimes like this, low-level misdemeanors, only spend a few days in jail, because they need to stop overcrowding, and they have to keep violent felons or people accused of violent felonies in jail.

He knows what he did. He did it for the cameras. He did it for celebrity land. He did it to make controversy. And I think it's highly improper.

COOPER: So, if a -- if a person who was not a celebrity was convicted of -- of violating the probation the same way that she was, what sentence would they get, routinely?

MESEREAU: I would have had -- I have had people go in the morning and leave that afternoon. Nobody gets 45 days like this. Nobody is told, you must spend all 45 days.

He did it for the cameras. It's ridiculous.

COOPER: But, you know, plenty of times, judges want to send messages. And, if, on the books, it is allowed, what is wrong with that?

MESEREAU: I think equality should be the major message in our justice system, that, no matter who you are, you're treated equally with everybody else.

This is a case of celebrity injustice. He did things with her because of who she is, and how much wealth she has, and because there were paparazzi and cameras around, that he wouldn't have done with anybody else. And he's created a difficult situation for our sheriff, who is a dedicated public servant, a very decent man. I know him very well.

And he's trying to treat everybody equally. He didn't treat Paris Hilton any differently from anyone else. And the judge tried to make it look like he had. COOPER: Regardless of whether she should have been given that amount of time, once she was in the system, I mean, there are plenty of people -- you know, I have gotten e-mails all day long -- there are plenty of people who are in -- in jail who are suicidal, or who have mental issues, or who are clearly depressed or on the verge of a nervous breakdown, like people said she was today. Why should that have entitled her to get out?

MESEREAU: Did you ask what crimes they're accused of or what crimes they have been convicted of? I bet most of them were charged with violent felonies.

Nobody is asking the right questions in this case, because it's become a real media firestorm that's not dealing with reality. Judge (sic) Baca treated her equally with the poor and rich. He treated her exactly as he treats other people. And he was undermined by a judge who is running amuck.

COOPER: So, you're saying, if a poor person was in prison for the same sentence for a day, whatever, and felt they were on the verge of a nervous breakdown, they would have access to the medical facilities; they would be able to get out?

MESEREAU: It's not what they think. It's what the sheriff thinks.

If a -- if Sheriff Baca gave a press conference and said he has homeless people suffering from mental problems in his mental facility because the county won't send them to a right hospital -- no, it's what Sheriff Baca thinks is -- is appropriate.

And, apparently, she was examined by Sheriff Baca's psychologists and psychiatrists, as I understand it, and they concluded this was the appropriate way to treat her.

COOPER: Thomas Mesereau, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you, sir.

MESEREAU: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: Right now, tonight, she is back behind bars at the Century Regional Detention Facility. Here is the "Raw Data" on the jail.

It holds 2,200 inmates, all of them female. It's located in Lynwood, which is 12 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The cells have two bunk beds, a table, sink, toilet, and small window. Inmates get an hour each day to watch TV in a day room, talk on the phone, or exercise outside.

And the cost of housing an inmate in L.A. county is about $53 a day.

Up next, our roundtable of legal experts weigh in on the drama. Was her sentence fair? And is she getting preferential treatment? You can e-mail us your questions right now, CNN.com/360. Click on the instant feedback link. We will have ask some of your questions to our panel ahead.

Also tonight, these stories:

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): A congressman called a crook fires back.

REP. WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D), LOUISIANA: All of the allegations are misleading, and all of the allegations are untrue.

COOPER: So, how does Congressman Jefferson explain the $90,000 in cold cash in his freezer? For the first time, hear his side of the story.

Plus: egos bruised and battered, with the immigration reform bill dead for now. But some aren't complaining.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It probably means that there will never be a President John McCain.

COOPER: Ouch. That's "Raw Politics" -- tonight on 360.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: That is some of the frenzy, the circus, the inevitable result when the rich and famous get in trouble with the law.

Introducing our roundtable now, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom is here, attorney Robert Shapiro, who at one point represented O.J. Simpson, and retired New York State Supreme Court Leslie Crocker Snyder.

Appreciate all of you being on the program.

Lisa, let me just start off with you. You disagree with what Thomas Mesereau said.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, I do.

Here is the problem with letting her out for some kind of a medical problem. Over one-third of female inmates in jail, people just like Paris Hilton, have serious medical problems, things like AIDS, diabetes, cancer. They just don't get out. It just doesn't happen, even for low-level crimes.

The reason that was given for letting her out yesterday was a medical problem, not overcrowding. That was never mentioned by the sheriff's spokesperson. Just put that out of the picture.

She was let out for a medical reason. If that is the case, why isn't a poor black woman from Compton let out for the same reason or for a more serious medical problem, like diabetes or cancer? It just doesn't happen. That's why this didn't pass the smell test, and that's why there's been such a frenzy over the last two days.

COOPER: Robert, you say this is a much larger issue.

ROBERT SHAPIRO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is a tremendous constitutional issue that's been going on, Anderson, for over a decade in the County of Los Angeles. And it involves more than one party.

It involves the sheriff's department. It involves the court system. It involves the prosecutors. And it involves the board of supervisors. And the question is always one in the same. And that is, what do we do with people who are sentenced to short periods of time in the county jail, where there are limited resources?

Also, Lisa is right when she talks about the medical condition. But a fact that I don't think she's considering is that no motion was brought by Paris' lawyers to have her released. It wasn't her doctor who made the suggestion. Three county doctors examined Paris, two psychologists and one psychiatrist. They made a recommendation to the sheriff.

The sheriff is an elected official. Sheriff Baca is one of the most respected law enforcement officers in the United States. He's been elected for two terms. He is exceedingly popular. And -- and he said the result is what would happen to anybody else. We give 10 percent of a sentence. Everybody knows that going in. Maybe some people...

BLOOM: If that's the case, then why not make a motion in front of the judge? Why release her in the middle of the night? It just doesn't look good.

(CROSSTALK)

LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, FORMER NEW YORK SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Let's look at it from the judge's perspective.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: All right.

Judge Snyder, finish your thought.

SNYDER: Yes.

I would like to look at it from the judge's perspective. I'm actually shocked by a lot of the comments I have heard that are attacking the judge. The judge -- this is a young woman who was charged with reckless driving related to alcohol.

She's given probation, and she violates the conditions of the probation, which included going to some kind of alcohol driving school, alcohol rehabilitation. She just absolutely ignores it, from what I understand. And the -- and the judge is rightfully angry at her violation of probation, gives her what appears to be a lengthy sentence. But, under the law, she gets a lot of time off for good behavior, a lot of credit for time served.

And he's being attacked as treating her unfairly. Well, I think the perception of justice, which is someone that everyone in the criminal justice community is very concerned about, has surely been vitiated here. People do not think there is justice for poor people, but it appears that the rich can buy their way out of anything.

(CROSSTALK)

SNYDER: There is a dispute going on, obviously, with the sheriff.

Now, the sheriff has certain rights to -- to let people out after a certain period of time. He has a certain amount of discretion. But, since the judge specifically ordered no home detention and no ankle bracelet, I believe he should have brought it to the attention of the judge, and there should have been a hearing, at least, as to her medical condition.

COOPER: Robert, you were saying that anybody in this -- in the circumstances with the same problem could have been released. But -- but it -- wasn't it her psychiatrist who came to the -- the prison, who then informed the medical facilities there, and got them involved?

I mean, a person without their own private psychiatrist coming to visit may not get that same amount of attention.

SHAPIRO: No, my understanding is that the jail facilities themselves asked three different people from the county to examine Paris Hilton.

But that's not the issue. I think the more basic issue is this. My personal view is, driving under the influence is about the most serious offense that one could do, by endangering civilians that are innocent people. So, let's put that aside.

Whether the sentence is right or wrong, that was the sentence. But, if you have some investigative reporter go through Judge Sauer's records and the records of every judge in traffic court, I would doubt that you will find one case where a judge orders the sheriff not to use the general programs that the sheriff uses, which are community service, house arrest, different types of early-release programs, or work furlough.

Those are generic programs that...

COOPER: So, why do you think he did it?

SHAPIRO: ... are done always.

COOPER: Do you think he was trying to...

SHAPIRO: I think...

COOPER: ... make a name for himself?

SHAPIRO: I think the following.

First of all, let's take a look at the judge. Judge Sauer has been on the judge for at least 25 years. His only experience before that was as a city attorney.

He became a municipal court judge and remained on the municipal court until there was a consolidation of the courts, where all judges now are superior court judges.

But, after 25 or 30 years of service, he's still doing arraignments in a traffic court in downtown Los Angeles. That's number one.

Number two...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Well, let's hold off.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Just hold off number two, because we...

SNYDER: You know, it's so easy...

COOPER: I have just got to take a quick break. We're going to have more when we come back from our roundtable in just a minute.

There's an odd coincidence, I should just point out, involving one of today's pictures that you will be seeing again and again. Here's the picture, now pretty famous, of her tears, grimacing and all, raw emotion.

Now here's the coincidence. The same photographer who took this picture took this picture in Vietnam, raw emotion. The photographer's name is Nick Ut.

And one more coincidence: This picture in Vietnam was taken exactly 35 years ago today, June 8.

A lot of reviewers have sent us e-mails. Ahead, we will have our panel react to some of them, including this one. It says: "Good girls don't end up in jail. Perhaps she should not have spent so much time building her reputation as a bad girl. She can't have it both ways."

Well, that and more, your thoughts -- coming up.

Plus: The immigration bill stalls in the Senate. And it's not just illegals who lose out. It might cost one presidential candidate the White House, at least some other campaigns are hoping -- the story in "Raw Politics" ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We asked for e-mails from you about ten minutes ago. I think we've gotten about a thousand so far. We've been getting a lot of the e-mails all day long, also.

Now back to our round table. Joining us again, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom, attorney Robert Shapiro and retired New York state supreme court judge Leslie Crocker Snyder.

Judge Snyder, I want to read you the first e-mail. It's from Mia in Baltimore. She wrote, "I was completely disgusted when I heard that Paris Hilton had been released from prison due to a 'medical condition.' The only condition I can see that she has is being an alcoholic who's drunk on her celebrity status. I know a lot of people in prison with medical conditions who have been waiting months or even years to hear a request to be released."

Are there medical conditions that can get you released from prison?

SNYDER: Well, I assume that there are. However, there is an entire panoply of medical treatment that you can receive in jail, as has been brought up by many people.

They have mental facilities. They have psychiatrists. And most people do not get released for that reason.

Now granted, misdemeanors, when there's overcrowding, there's more of a tendency to be released. However, here it appears that the sheriff did violate the direct order of the judge, because the sentence did specify no home detention.

So medical treatment, in my view, should have been sought in jail. And certainly, as I said before, the perception is that the rich can buy their way out of a sentence, I think.

COOPER: Robert -- Robert, Herb from Mountain View, California, wrote us this. He said, "You'd think she'd committed a felony, not a misdemeanor. Most people who've committed a 'crime' like hers either receive a sentence of house arrest or community service. She's taking up space in our jail system for driving with a suspended license? If she wasn't a celebrity, she wouldn't be going to jail."

Do you think that's true?

SHAPIRO: That's precisely the correct approach to exactly what has happened here.

You know, Anderson, these cases are not uncommon. It's not that Paris Hilton is the first person who was driving under the influence and violated probation by driving on a suspended license. These are routine. We have hundreds of these cases on a daily basis throughout Los Angeles County. And there are general standings...

SNYDER: But they're not routine to the people who people get killed. They're not routine when it's your child who's run over by a drunk driver. This is an extraordinarily serious charge.

BLOOM: That's right.

SHAPIRO: You're absolutely right, and I said that at the outset. I think it's about the most serious charge.

And the question isn't whether or not -- whether or not the punishment was enough or should be more or should be less. The question is what are similar people getting for the identical offense and how much time are they serving for it?

BLOOM: The offense is flouting the judge's...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: The offense is, she got a second chance. She blew that. And on the third chance, she got 45 days. Then it was reduced to 23 days, Anderson.

So we have to talk about the same thing when we're talking about the offenses. She was given so many chances.

And finally the judge, as many judges do...

SNYDER: Exactly.

BLOOM: ... from my practice, when you flout a judge's order, when you flout the second chance over and over again, eventually the judge throws the book at you.

And if this sheriff was doing everything right, why did he do this surreptitiously in the middle of the night? Why did he release her without going to the judge, without bringing a motion in front of the judge who had said no electronic monitoring? That's the problem with what the sheriff did.

COOPER: I just want to try to get in.

SHAPIRO: I'll tell you why, Lisa. I'll tell you why. Because it's never, ever done that way. It might sound nice, and if you're on a panel, and you're able to talk justice...

BLOOM: The judge said, "I was expecting a motion."

SHAPIRO: Let me finish. I'm not going to argue with you. I'm just telling you, in reality, what happens daily. The sheriffs don't call the judges; the judges don't call the sheriff.

Somebody gets a 45-day sentence. They go in. They either get booked and released immediately or serve a maximum of three days. That's reality. I'm not saying it's right. I'm not saying it's wrong. That's what happens in almost every single case.

SNYDER: The judge doesn't always -- the judge doesn't always set conditions.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Judge Snyder, go ahead.

SNYDER: The judge doesn't always set conditions like this. The judge does not always set conditions like this. And as Lisa just pointed out, this is not the initial sentence.

This is someone who's been given a number of chances, so the sentence is not excessive. And the sheriff, maybe there's a power play going on here that's always been going on. I don't know.

But this was not the right way to proceed. And the sheriff must have realized that it would give rise to the perception of injustice and put the whole criminal justice system in question.

COOPER: Very quickly, I just want to try to read at least one more e-mail. Lisa, Stephanie from Louisiana sent us this e-mail: "Do I think she should have been released early? Probably not. But to release her and then throw her back in jail has got to be very traumatic for a young girl, socialite or not. I honestly feel sorry for her now!"

Lisa, do you feel sorry for her?

BLOOM: Yes, I have compassion for anybody who's in the middle of a crisis. But she brought this on herself. She brought this on her family. She was given multiple chances, and she chose to flout them.

She looks like an egotistical, spoiled child. I'm sorry, but that's how she comes across.

Look at Martha Stewart. She broke the law. She served her time. She came out and held her head high. Paris Hilton apparently isn't capable of doing that.

COOPER: Robert Shapiro, we appreciate you being on the program. Lisa Bloom, as well.

SHAPIRO: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Leslie Crocker Snyder, I know you're in New Orleans, doing great work. We'd love to talk to you about that another time on the program. Thank you.

The celebrity that we're talking about tonight, well, her jail time is linked to an alcohol-related reckless driving condition. Here's the raw data on drunk driving.

The number of deaths caused by drunk drivers are the highest that they have been since 1992. Nearly 18,000 people were killed nationwide last year. Eighteen thousand people, an average of one every half hour.

As for who's most at fault, according to the government, people 20 to 29 years old.

Up next, did a lawmaker take bribes?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): A congressman called a crook fires back.

REP. WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D-LA), CHARGED WITH CORRUPTION: All of the allegations are misleading, and all of the allegations are untrue.

COOPER: So how does Congressman Jefferson explain the $90,000 in cold cash in his freezer? For the first time, hear his side of the story.

Plus, egos bruised and battered, with the immigration reform bill dead for now. But some aren't complaining.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It probably means that there will never be a President John McCain.

COOPER: Ouch. That's "Raw Politics" tonight on 360.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The hotel heiress drama is making big headlines. Today, of course, there are several other court cases that make your jaw drop in disbelief.

Coming up on the next hour of 360, we're going to look at some of those cases, putting the justice system on trial. We're focused on a fire investigation.

Let's see what CNN's Randi Kaye discovered about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Willingham home in Corsicana, Texas, was on fire. One-year-old twins Kameron and Karmon and 2-year-old Amber were trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He tried to go into their room. It was down a hall. And he burned his hand on the door facing.

KAYE: Willingham never reached his baby girls. All three of them died.

Willingham, who escaped, told family and police he desperately tried to save his daughters. But Doug Fogg and other fire investigators found evidence they say proved otherwise.

DOUG FOGG, FIRE INVESTIGATORS: The fuel patterns on the floor, they told me, hey, you know, something -- a good possibility something was introduced here.

KAYE (on camera): Such as an accelerant?

FOGG: Such as an accelerant.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, following that lead, police charged Willingham with arson and homicide. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

But did investigators get the wrong guy? It's all part of this 360 special, "Justice on Trial", in the 11 p.m. hour.

First, a big shake-up is coming for the U.S. military's top brass. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Peter Pace, will be replaced when his term ends in September. His career, a casualty of the Iraq war.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he's been warned that Pace's reconfirmation hearing would have been contentious, so for a fresh start, Gates is recommending Navy Admiral Michael G. Mullen for joint chiefs chairman instead.

The Louisiana congressman who hid $90,000 in his freezer and is now facing corruption charges came to court today to plead not guilty.

Democratic Representative William Jefferson is facing expulsion from the House of Representatives and a maximum sentence of 235 years in prison if he is convicted. Jefferson says he was framed.

CNN's Tom Foreman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His accusers call him William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson. He calls himself an innocent man.

JEFFERSON: I am absolutely innocent of the charges that have been leveled against me. And we're going to fight -- I'm going to fight my heart out to clear my name.

FOREMAN: The embattled congressman was arraigned in federal court on charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. He says he didn't do it.

JEFFERSON: Did I make a mistake in judgment along the way? Yes, I did. That I deeply regret. But did I sell my office or conduct official acts for money? Absolutely not.

FOREMAN: Prosecutors say they videotaped Jefferson accepting a $100,000 bribe and then found $90,000 of it wrapped up in his freezer. It's a complicated story involving possible involvement in a West African bribery scheme.

Jefferson's version...

JEFFERSON: The $90,000 was the FBI's money. The FBI gave it to me as part of its plan, part of their plan, that I would give it to the Nigerian vice president. But I did not do that.

FOREMAN: The court says Jefferson can travel to his district in Louisiana, but must have other trips approved. They took his passport.

His supporters on the Hill are digging in.

JOSEPHINE HEARN, POLITICO.COM: Nobody really wants to come out in front of the cameras and say, "You know, I really believe in this guy."

But he definitely has friends in Congress who believe that there is still a possibility that the charges are spurious, that he will be cleared of all of them.

FOREMAN: The House Ethics Committee has launched a fast track investigation and could recommend expulsion. Jefferson will certainly fight it.

JEFFERSON: My family and I have determined that I will not sacrifice my honor or cave to political pressure and that we will sell every stick of furniture in our home and everything else we own or that we may possess to clear our name and to see that justice is done.

FOREMAN (on camera): At least until his trial next year, Jefferson will continue collecting his $165,000 annual salary from you, the taxpayers.

(voice-over) And even if he is convicted and sent to prison, he is still eligible to collect his congressional pension. Proposed legislation to change that has stalled.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Still ahead, how the failure of the immigration bill in the Senate could mean the end of the road for one top presidential candidate. The story in "Raw Politics".

Plus, she was convicted of killing her preacher husband. Today, she was sentenced. You won't -- maybe you'll be surprised by how little time she got. That story and more when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: From a flat-lining immigration bill to medical matters, to the president and his No. 2 man. It is all in tonight's "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Anderson, there is a broad sense among many raw politicos that the meltdown over immigration is scorching both parties.

(voice-over) Republican candidate John McCain did not get the support he wanted, but he gets this after weeks of talks, protests and grandstanding, Congress produced no plan to deal with the estimated 12 million or more illegal immigrants. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (D-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We still have broken borders, and we still have this problem of not finding out who those -- these people are.

FOREMAN: Another Republican hopeful, Tom Tancredo, sees a silver lining in the bill's collapse.

TANCREDO: Probably means that there will never be a President John McCain.

FOREMAN: Yow!

Chaos, confusion, hard feelings in both parties. No mas! Meeting adjourned.

Rocky 2007, the White House punching bag. Congressional Democrats are moving fast now toward that no confidence vote for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He's in the hot seat over the firing of some U.S. attorneys.

And one more time with feeling, Mr. A.G., how did that happen?

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't remember.

FOREMAN: Of course. But Gonzales is not throwing in the towel. "Raw Politics" insiders say some Republicans will try to head off this vote.

Iraq, you may ask where are we today?

LT. GEN. DOUGLAS LUTE, U.S. ARMY: Where are we today? Not where any of us would like.

FOREMAN: One day after Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, Bush's nominee for managing the Iraq war, gave his not so rosy assessment, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the old head of the joint chiefs, General Peter Pace, is out, come September. Admiral Mike Mullen is in. Could be charting a new direction for the war.

And it just makes me sick. Vice President Dick Cheney getting his heart checked out again.

President Bush in Germany, feeling under the weather, moved his meeting with the French president to a private room. The White House says just being cautious, nothing serious. Good idea, though.

Remember, the first president Bush lost his sushi with the Japanese prime minister in 1992. I guess some people just can't stomach their "Raw Politics" -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

Up next, "The Shot of the Day". Wait till you see what a 360 fan cooked up, literally. Also tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Good police work or bad science?

KAYE: If your opinion, based on your scientific findings, was Todd Willingham innocent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he did not light that fire.

COOPER: Re-examining an arson that ended with an execution.

Also tonight, paradise lost. An American convicted of murder.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can swear that he was here Tuesday at noon?

COOPER: Fighting for freedom and to clear his name, coming up in a 360 special, "Justice on Trial".

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: "The Shot of the Day" is coming up, but first Erica Hill joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, we start with courtroom drama in Tennessee. Mary Winkler sentenced to less than a year in prison for killing her preacher husband.

Winkler testified he subjected her to psychological and sexual abuse. Winkler is not likely to spend more time behind bars, though, since she does get credit for time served after being found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

On Wall Street, a week ending rally after three straight days sell-off. Investors responding to news of a drop in oil prices and the trade deficit.

The Dow gaining 157 points to close at 13,424. The NASDAQ up to 2,573. That's a gain of 32 points. While the S&P advanced to 16 to end the week at 1,507.

Several airports today, talk about some long delays for travelers. Not the way you want to start the weekend.

The problem turned out to be a glitch in the computer system that processes flight plans for all of the nation's air traffic.

Most U.S. airports were back online early in the day, but as you can imagine, it took a little longer for some of these East Coast airports to reconnect to the system, which caused delays of up to four hours. And a long delay coming to an end for NASA. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is in orbit tonight, headed for the International Space Station. The mission had been held up for months because of damage to the shuttle from a hailstorm.

And Anderson, you know we believe in long celebrations here at 360. So for "The Shot of the Day", how about an Anderson Cooper pizza pie? It's good stuff.

COOPER: Wow.

HILL: How about that? Paul Tamassi of Angelino's Restaurant in Cambridge, Vermont, created the pie...

COOPER: Wow, that's cool.

HILL: ... just for your 40th birthday, which was, of course, last Sunday.

COOPER: Wow.

HILL: What do you think, pizza or 40 candles on a cake?

COOPER: I like that very much. I wonder -- it looks like it's got some pepperoni there and some...

HILL: I think so. I think those are olives on slices of provolone, but I'm not sure.

COOPER: Wow. And he's got a shirt, too.

HILL: I think that's an "I-Report for CNN" shirt.

COOPER: Well, I appreciate that. Thank you very much. I hope somebody ate it. I hope it tasted good.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas or your pizza ideas. If you see some amazing video, tell us about it: CNN.com/360. We'll put some of your best clips, or some of your best stills, on the air.

If you want another look at "The Shot" or get the day's headlines, check out the 360 daily podcast. You can watch it at CNN.com/360podcast or get it off iTunes, where it is a top download.

Still ahead tonight, a lot of noise and more than enough drama as the woman who a company named (ph) went back to prison. We'll tell you what happened today in the courtroom.

Plus, how forensic science may have put an innocent man on Death Row, convicted of arson. As you know, this isn't the first time something like this has happened. We'll look at cases where the facts just don't seem to add up. A new 360 special, "Justice on Trial", is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: In this hour of 360, a special look at unequal justice under the law. Crimes, criminals and court courses where the outcome seems to defy common sense. We're calling it "Justice on Trial".

We start in Los Angeles, where this afternoon a judge told a world famous celebrity heiress, go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not get early release deals with the L.A. Sheriff's Department without my permission.

Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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