Jennifer Hudson is not getting special treatment at trial, says court

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 10: Singer Jennifer Hudson performs during the opening night of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on March 10, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for The Smith Center)
Ethan Miller
Jennifer Hudson performs during the opening night of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts on March 10, 2012, in Las Vegas.

(CBS/AP) Is Jennifer Hudson getting star treatment at her family's murder trial in Chicago? The court says no.

The Oscar-winning actress arrives each day at the trial of the man accused of killing three of her close family members with her personal bodyguards in tow. She uses a secret entrance to elude photographers, eats in private and waits for proceedings to start in a normally off-limits judge's chambers.

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The Oscar winner, recently named one of the world's most beautiful women by People magazine, slips from the courtroom during particularly gory testimony.

But do the accommodations add up to special star status?

"Absolutely not," said Irv Miller, a judge's liaison at the trial, which is into its second full week.

Most accommodations, he insisted, are courtesies routinely extended to victims enduring the grim ordeal of sitting through a murder trial. Others, he conceded, are necessary because Hudson -- a 2004 "American Idol" finalist -- is a celebrity.

"Star status means things have to be a little different," he said. "You just can't have a celebrity walking about, going to the cafeteria - people running up to ask for autographs."

Others, however, say the courthouse has gone too far.

"It's outrageous," said Manny Medrano, a Los Angeles-based defense attorney and former television reporter who regularly comments on high-profile cases. "It sends the wrong signal to the world - that if you are a celebrity, you won't be treated like everyone."

Her treatment may be a result of Chicago's relative lack of experience with celebrity cases. In Southern California, said Medrano, people expect celebrities to be treated at court like everyone else.

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. She is also expected to attend each day until it ends.

Leading up to the trial, Hudson had been busy with various projects and performances, singing on "American Idol" and at The Revlon Concert for the Rainforest Fund, in New York. She also has a song on the soundtrack to the new film, "Think Like a Man."

Tell us: Do you think Hudson is getting star treatment?