Smith lawyer confident

4-16-01, 6:15 p.m.

Updated: 4-16-01, 9:15 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

When a San Diego Superior Court decided not to dismiss Bengals quarterback Akili Smith's DUI case Monday, his lawyer opted to go to trial Tuesday.

"Akili Smith is totally innocent and we feel very confident we can prove it in the upcoming trial," said Myles Berman of the Top Gun legal firm.

Smith, charged with suspicion of DUI Feb. 8, pleaded not guilty in a flurry of pre-trial motions that lasted much of Monday.

Berman said he expected a jury would be seated Tuesday

and that the prosecution could begin arguments as soon as Tuesday morning. He hopes the trial is completed by Friday, but doesn't know if a verdict would be in by then.

If he's found guilty, Smith, 25, would face a fine from the NFL that could be as much as $22,882, one of his 17 game checks. It's highly unlikely he would face jail time or a league suspension if convicted.

Smith has maintained his innocence ever since he was arrested early in the morning after going the wrong way down a one-way street in San Diego's entertainment district.

Smith, who had been working out the past five weeks in Cincinnati, is off this week with his coaches in draft meetings.

Berman said in California, misdemeanors and felonies are both tried in Superior Court. The charge against Smith is misdemeanor DUI.

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