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Lindsay Lohan returns to court for probable last hearing

Lindsay Lohan returns to court Thursday for a hearing that could give the actress back something she hasn't had for nearly two years: true freedom.

Lohan will give a judge her final update on strict probation requirements that have had her doing cleanup duty at the county morgue and attending regular psychotherapy sessions since late last year. Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner has said she will end Lohan's probation on a 2007 drunken driving case on Thursday if she completes the requirements, which the actress has apparently done.

The "Mean Girls" star will remain on informal probation for taking a necklace without permission, but she will no longer be supervised by a probation officer and judge and no longer be forced to live in Los Angeles, where the actress still faces civil lawsuits over accidents and her bad behavior.

The hearing comes as Lohan's career is showing hints of a comeback. She is due to guest star on an upcoming episode of "Glee," recently hosted a highly rated but criticized episode of "Saturday Night Live" and is set to star as Elizabeth Taylor in a television movie.

"Lindsay is ending one chapter and starting the next," her spokesman, Steve Honig said. "She is very eager to get back on set and dive into her next few projects."

Roles have been hard to come by for Lohan in recent years as she has been in-and-out of courtrooms, admitted to rehab and sentenced to jail. Her failure to complete alcohol education classes in 2010 prompted a judge to sentence her to jail for the first time since the actress served 84 minutes for a pair of drunken driving arrests in 2007. A court-ordered rehab stint was cut short, but Lohan relapsed before year's end and was sent by another judge to the Betty Ford Center, where she was involved in a fight with a rehab worker.

Within three weeks of her release in January 2011, Lohan was accused of stealing a $2,500 necklace from a store near her Venice home and soon landed in Sautner's court. The judge rejected rehab, but did attempt to send Lohan, 25, to jail as punishment. Overcrowding reduced a November 2011 sentence to a few hours, although the actress did serve 35 days on house arrest earlier in the year.

Lohan is far from the only celebrity to encounter trouble complying with the terms of alcohol-related cases and ending up in jail. Fellow female celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and Khloe Kardashian have all been sentenced to jail and faced multiple court hearings because they didn't properly comply with their sentences. All their cases have long since ended.

Lohan's tortured four-and-a-half-year journey to complete her case is not entirely unprecedented. Actress Michelle Rodriguez took just over five years to resolve her drunken driving case, which featured many of the same elements as the Lohan saga: extensions, missed deadlines and jail sentences.

Resolving the case will provide the actress with the chance for something Hollywood has bestowed to plenty of other fallen stars: a comeback.

Her career prospects are largely tied to her ability to stay out of trouble, which at times has been a tough task for the actress. Two weeks before her hearing, a nightclub manager in Hollywood accused Lohan of grazing him with her Porsche. The actress denies the accusation and no charges have been filed, but the matter may end up in a civil court, where Lohan is already being sued by two other people for auto-related incidents.

Three men who were in a car that Lohan commandeered and used for a chase along Pacific Coast Highway -- leading to her second drunken driving arrest in 2007 -- are suing her and the case is scheduled for trial later this year. Lohan is also being sued by a woman who claims she was struck by the star's car while walking in West Hollywood.

She is also being sued by the former Betty Ford worker.

Whether the cases will result in the end of her off-screen drama remains to be seen.

Before all that, there is one last hurdle, albeit a familiar one. She must make it past the rows of cameras Thursday morning to Sautner's reporter-packed courtroom.

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