Legal Muse

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Britney Spears, meet Civ Pro.

with 6 comments

During my usual nocturnal Civil Procedure musings, I’ve stumbled across a fairly relevant (and perhaps glamorous) case regarding Britney Spears. I believe that the media is confusing residency with domicile, however.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Today) 10/18/08 – The jury in the case involving entertainer Britney Spears allegedly driving without a valid license began to deliberate Friday night, and the determination of her guilt or innocence will depend on which state she’s considered a resident of—California or Louisiana.

If her peers decide Louisiana, Spears’ childhood home, she will be off the hook. If they decide California, she will be in violation of a law requiring new residents to get a California driver’s license within 10 days and face possible, though unlikely, jail time of up to six months and a fine as large as $1,000.

Spears held a current Louisiana driver’s license on Aug. 6, 2007, when she hit a parked car, and her defense team has argued that since she pays income tax to that state, owns property there and is registered to vote there, she should not legally be considered a California resident.

The prosecution claimed that since Spears has lived fulltime in the Los Angeles area for several years and allegedly began, but did not complete, an application for a California driver’s license, she was actually a California resident, making her Louisiana license void.

The trial spanned only two days before jury deliberations began, including Friday, when Spears’ father, Jamie, testified. He is currently the co-conservator of Spears’ estate—a position to which he was appointed on Jan. 31, following his daughter’s two hospitalizations for psychiatric evaluation.

An attorney for Spears originally attempted to delay the trial by claiming that since her personal and professional lives were still under the control of her father, she was not fit to stand trial—a claim that was rejected by the court.

In a lengthier article here (,,20233865,00.html), the father testifies that she has every intention of returning to Louisiana, and is therefor not a CA “resident”. Again, I think this is incorrect. She has residency in CA, but not domicile, as she owns property, but does not intend to stay there.

Unless there is different vernacular in use in CA, and they really do mandate a CA drivers license for anyone who owns property, I think she’s off the hook. However, I find it unlikely that a mere “resident” of CA would be required to have a CA drivers license. If I just so happened to be wealthy enough to have some investment properties in Beverly Hills, but I lived in a posh section of NYC and only rarely stayed in a home in CA, it wouldn’t make much sense to require a license of me, especially if it would declare my NY license void. It seems that might even infringe on the powers of other states.


Written by DMN

October 20, 2008 at 3:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

6 Responses

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  1. I think California needs to do something differently. In general, I mean. Like, I dunno, something. The natives are crazy.


    October 20, 2008 at 4:12 pm

  2. I’m voting for fall into the ocean myself.

    – T. Ohhe

    T. Ohhe

    October 20, 2008 at 5:14 pm

  3. technically, i think the court established she wasn’t a native…but crazy yes.


    October 20, 2008 at 11:35 pm

  4. If California and New York both had laws stating that residents were required to have a license from that state, and someone owned property in both, would the state legislatures cancel each other out?

    Evidence supporting that it would be a pretty awesome thing:


    October 21, 2008 at 1:17 am

  5. NICE! I got caught by the spam catcher again. FIX IT!


    October 21, 2008 at 1:18 am

  6. Dave –


    That’s freaking awesome.


    October 21, 2008 at 10:10 am

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