They’d been deliberating since Friday, and even though it seemed like a fairly cut-and-dried case, the jury in Britney Spears’ misdemeanor driving-without-a-license trial still couldn’t agree on a verdict, forcing Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Steele to declare a mistrial Tuesday afternoon (October 21).
According to The Associated Press, the prosecution and the defense in Spears’ driving case were asked to make a new round of closing arguments Tuesday morning, in hopes that it would spur the jury toward a decision. Steele, who instructed the jury to resume deliberations Monday until they reached a unanimous decision, allowed both sides to restate their cases for 11 minutes.
But apparently, the second round of closing arguments failed to convince the two holdouts on the jury of eight women and four men. AP reports that, after four votes, the jury still couldn’t agree on whether the singer was guilty of driving without a valid driver’s license, a misdemeanor. Steele thanked the jurors for their time, and then ended the proceedings. A few hours later, the prosecution announced that the case against Spears had been dismissed altogether.
Spears, who rejected a plea deal earlier this month that would have placed her on a year’s probation and required her to pay a $150 fine, was not present for any of the trial.
The charge against Spears stemmed from a minor accident she was involved in last summer, during which the pop star struck a parked car and drove off. Paparazzi captured the incident on video. At the time, Spears had only her Louisiana driver’s license. Her attorney claims she didn’t meet the state’s residency requirements and, thus, was within the law. Initially, Spears was also slapped with a hit-and-run charge that was later dismissed after she paid to have the other vehicle repaired.
The case hinges on the question of residency. The prosecution argued that Spears got married, had two children and filed for divorce in Los Angeles, and was therefore a California resident. But her attorney claims her California residency was temporary and that her true address lies in her home state.
Before the mistrial, Spears’ lawyer, J. Michael Flannagan, told OK! magazine that this case is quite different from most he’s argued.
“I want to escape this case,” he reportedly said, following his second closing argument. “I’ve tried about 500 cases, and I’ve never seen something like this. I’ve seen hung juries before but never have I had to give additional closing arguments for a case like this. They should have declared this a mistrial a day ago. I looked at the jury, and they did not look happy. I did not see a lot of happy faces.”
[This story was originally published on 10.21.08 at 3:15 p.m. ET.]