Winona Ryder may be a Hollywood movie star, but that's no reason why her shoplifting case had to be the big production it became.
When she was arrested last December for lifting more than $5,500 in designer goods from a Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue, an act caught on videotape, there was every reason to assume the case would be settled quickly and quietly. Instead it dragged on, with Ryder refusing to acknowledge guilt, lawyers from both sides unable to negotiate terms for a plea bargain and media coverage becoming increasingly frenzied.
It finally took a costly, ten-month investigation and weeklong trial to achieve a result that seemed obvious from the beginning. Ryder was found guilty and will receive probation instead of jail time.
Now it is over, unless Ryder decides to appeal, and the big production turned out to be a farce. But no one is laughing.
The shoddy spectacle reflects poorly on everyone involved. Ryder comes off as an overgrown child willfully locked in a state of stubborn denial. The defense and prosecuting attorneys substituted one-upmanship for good legal sense. And the media proved once again that it is so besotted by celebrity that its news judgment is warped.
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