Judge Praises Ryder but Halts Auction

04/08/2003 01:00PM

Winona Ryder was back in court Monday -- this time for a progress report after she was sentenced last December to three years' probation for shoplifting from a Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

Superior Court Judge Elden Fox praised the "Girl, Interrupted" actress, 31, for completing her 480 hours community service ahead of schedule, but he argued with her lawyer, Mark Geragos, over whether she could dispose of the $6,000 in lifted merchandise by holding a charity auction, reports Reuters.

"Your client should not benefit" from her crime, the jurist told Geragos, after the idea was presented in the courtroom. Fox said he would withhold making a final decision until later.

Geragos countered Fox's opinion by saying it was "ironic" that, during such hard-pressed economic times for Los Angeles County, the court would turn down such a financial opportunity.

"It seems awful silly to take thousands of dollars of merchandise and burn it in a bonfire," Geragos said in the courtroom.

Outside of court, the attorney told Reuters that the district attorney also opposed the charity idea, which leaves Geragos baffled. "I can probably raise $100,000 on that stuff," he said.

For her community service, Ryder (who was fined some $10,000 and is also seeing a court-ordered therapist) read to children and helped out in the offices of the children's ward of City of Hope, a nationally renowned cancer treatment center near Los Angeles.

Her time spent there prevented her from having a schedule that would have permitted her to work in movies.

"I want you to continue to do what you have been doing," said the judge, who added that Ryder was free to leave the state to work. "These are positive reports and I expect to continue to see more of the same."
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