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Hudson was the first person to testify in the prosecution’s case against William Balfour, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Hudson’s mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. Prosecutors say he shot Hudson’s family members in a jealousy-fueled act of vengeance against his estranged wife, Hudson’s sister.

Hudson, 30, has appeared in court each day since testimony began last week, and is expected to attend each day until it ends.

Lindsay Lohan, who has had cases in different Los Angeles-area courthouses, always goes through a public entrance. Britney Spears, who sometimes goes to court for updates in her conservatorship, is brought underground and enters the courtroom through a back door.

But in 20 years observing celebrity trials, Medrano said he’s never seen any court go as far as the one in Chicago seems to have gone for Hudson.

“If Hudson got this kind of treatment in LA,” he said, “there would be an outcry.”

She brings about a half dozen bodyguards, and Medrano particularly took issue with officials allowing her to have them in court. A few of her dapperly dressed security sit close, occasionally talking into microphones up their sleeves in the manner of Secret Service protecting a president. Others keep vigil by an elevator, holding it for their boss at breaks and shooing away those not in her entourage.

But Miller insists that, in most respects, Hudson is treated like anyone else.

For instance, prosecutors told Hudson before they exhibited grisly photos of her relatives’ bullet-riddled bodies so she could leave the room. Such forewarning is standard at murder trials to avoid putting victims’ relatives through unnecessary trauma.

The way she’s getting into the building is a far cry from red-carpet treatment. One possible entrance is via a tunnel connecting the courthouse to a sprawling jail next door. It would be an unsettling experience for anyone, said Steve Bogira, who wrote “Courtroom 302” about the complex and is one of few reporters to have gone into the bowels of the building.

“It was dark and dank, and deputies said it was not uncommon to see rats down there,” Bogira recalled, adding it has been about a decade since he was there. “It would be depressing for anyone. A paint job wouldn’t make it less so.”

Regardless, Hudson’s stealth entrance has been a particular source of frustration to photographers.

More than 100 journalists were accredited to cover the trial, including from web-based TMZ. Their primary goal: to snap a money shot of Hudson arriving or leaving the courthouse.

They staked out the complex in vain, though. After a few days, most packed up and left.


AP special correspondent Linda Deutsch also contributed to this report.

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