Judge Lets Britney Skip Legal Hearing
A judge in Los Angeles is letting Britney Spears skip an Oct. 7 hearing at which she's seeking a permanent restraining order against an alleged stalker, the Associated Press reports.
Superior Court Judge Alan Haber also ruled on Monday that the pop princess, 21, can sit out a question-and-answer session with Simon Robert Hiller, the lawyer for Japanese businessman Masahiko Shizawa.
Shizawa, 43, stands accused on charges that he "tracked and attempted to contact" Spears at her home in Los Angeles, as well as at her second home and one of her parents' homes, which are both located outside California.
Shizawa also allegedly sent Spears photos of himself and notes reading, "I'm chasing you."
In permitting Spears to skip next week's session, the jurist said: "I don't think (ordering her appearance) would add up to anything but additional harassment," AP reports.
Haber also told Shizawa's attorney that the evidence shows his client "has been stalking and harassing Spears for a considerable amount of time." The judge, however, insisted he would keep an open mind in preparation for the court date.
After Monday's session, Hiller criticized the judge's decision. "(Spears) doesn't want to come to court and substantiate or back up her statements," he said. "It's hard to have a fair hearing when your client is innocent. He's the one being harassed in a sense."
Hiller -- who said his client's visa to stay in the U.S. had expired and he has been in Japan since December -- added that Shizawa was "definitely a fan," who has sent Spears letters and e-mail, but has never been on her property.
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