TAMPA — Jessica Sierra, of American Idol and Celebrity Rehab fame, was happy when a judge told her Wednesday that she could go near microphones again.
"I could have literally ran over there and kissed the judge," she said, making a smooching sound.
Fifteen months ago, she was ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from television cameras and microphones. Officials didn't want her in the spotlight during her drug and alcohol rehab and probation for battery and cocaine possession.
The media ban made things tough for Sierra, said her attorney, Stephen Iglesias. She had to dodge the paparazzi who approached her in Los Angeles, where she now lives. And she couldn't record music.
"Without my music," Sierra, 23, said later, "I was a little depressed."
Prosecutors objected to the request to lift the ban. But Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder was swayed after hearing that she has completed rehab, stayed sober and volunteered with a drug prevention program for at-risk youths.
Holder said he consulted with Hillsborough Circuit Judge Daniel Perry, who initially imposed the 100-yard rule. Perry wasn't opposed to his colleague lifting the restriction, Holder said.
The judge warned Sierra that she still must adhere to the other conditions of her two-year probation, which she earned in 2007 after throwing a cocktail glass at a Hyde Park Cafe patron's head, and then violated during a drunken episode in Ybor City.
These days, she's working as an in-store sales clerk at a Sprint store. But she plans to record a "bluesy, kind of rock" album that chronicles her days of addiction and recovery. She also wants to do another reality show, this time about her life.