Spears jury leaves without verdict

10/18/2008 LOS ANGELES Jurors left a San Fernando Valley courthouse late Friday afternoon after deliberating the misdemeanor charge for slightly more than two hours. With no verdict reached, the jury of eight women and four men adjourned and were told to return Monday.

Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Michael Amerian declined to say what punishment he would seek if Spears is convicted. She faces up to six months in jail and a fine, though her lack of a prior criminal record means a lighter penalty is likely.

Jurors are weighing whether Spears was required to have a California license when she hit a parked car and left the scene in August 2007. Amerian contended that Spears was ostensibly a Los Angeles resident because she chose to get married here, got divorced here, and her two sons were born at LA-area hospitals.

He acknowledged Friday that it was "extremely rare" for misdemeanor driving without a license cases to go to trial, but said that was Spears' decision and pursuit of the case was justified.

But he noted the case stemmed from Spears hitting a parked car and leaving the scene of the accident without leaving a note. The case originally included a hit-and-run charge, but Spears settled that count with the car's owner.

Amerian said Spears rejected two offers for a resolution.

Spears' attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, has said she refused the deals because she didn't want a criminal record, and plans to appeal if convicted.

Flanagan told jurors that Spears had a valid Louisiana driver's license at the time of the accident and considered that state home.

She takes a homestead exemption on her house there and registered to vote there.

He tried to explain that it would be normal for her to have multiple residences in different states and that she could legally retain her Louisiana license. Jamie Spears testified that his daughter intends to return to Louisiana once she regains custody of her young boys, Sean Preston and Jayden James.

But father Jamie Spears' appearance allowed Amerian to tell jurors that Spears' voter registration had lapsed, and that she signed, under penalty of perjury, a document stating she was a California resident when filing for divorce in Los Angeles.

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