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Spears absent as jury selection starts

October 16, 2008|Harriet Ryan | Times Staff Writer

Perhaps it was better that Britney Spears was a no-show as jury selection began Wednesday in her trial on a charge of driving without a license.

Some of the 25 panelists questioned in Judge James Steele's Van Nuys courtroom could barely contain their disdain for the tabloid-headlining performer.

"I do not like that person," spat one prospective juror, a Canoga Park teacher.

Another panelist accused her of wasting taxpayer money by going to trial.

"It's a slam dunk. I think she is guilty," said the man, a restaurant worker from Northridge.

Lawyers are expected to select a final panel this morning and then begin opening statements. Spears, 26, faces a misdemeanor charge stemming from a fender bender last year. A conviction carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

Although she had not been in court for proceedings in the case, her attorney is vigorously fighting the charge. Lawyer Michael Flanagan said the city attorney's office should have charged her with a traffic violation, not a misdemeanor. He said he would argue that Spears was not guilty because she had a valid license from her home state of Louisiana at the time of the accident.

Among those on the witness list are Spears' father, Jamie; and an employee of the tabloid photo agency X17, which filmed the incident.


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