By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — When Paris Hilton is arraigned Oct. 27 in Las Vegas for felony drug possession, she will be at least the second high-profile celebrity defendant to stand before Judge Joe M. Bonaventure.
Bonaventure, who comes from a Las Vegas legal dynasty, oversaw O.J. Simpson’s 2007 arraignment and preliminary hearing, finding there was enough evidence for the infamous running back-turned-actor to stand trial on robbery charges.
Simpson was convicted the following year — exactly 13 years after he was found not guilty of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman — and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Hilton was charged with felony drug possession after investigators allegedly found 0.08 grams of cocaine in a purse she was carrying. She denied the purse was hers but said other items inside were, including asthma medication, credit cards and $1,300 in cash, according to a police report.
She was arrested with her boyfriend, Las Vegas nightclub operator Cy Waits, who was driving the black SUV stopped by police Aug. 28 at 11:22 p.m. after police said they smelled marijuana.
They were stopped near the Wynn Hotel, where a crowd gathered as officers prepared to search the Cadillac Escalade for narcotics, according to the report.
Hilton told officers she needed to use the bathroom and was escorted into the hotel. Lt. Dennis Flynn of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said that as they waited for a female officer to arrive to help with the search, Hilton asked for her purse to get lip balm.
“As she began to open it, I saw a small bindle of what I believed to be cocaine in a clear baggie begin to fall from the purse and into my hand,” Flynn wrote.
Hilton’s attorney, David Chesnoff, whose former legal partner is Las Vegas’ mayor, said in a statement: “This matter will be dealt with in the courts, not in the media, and I encourage people not to rush to judgment.”
Bonaventure’s father presided over Las Vegas’ most infamous case, the Ted Binion murder trial.
(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.