Spears a no-show at custody hearing


Britney Spears was nowhere to be seen today as a court hearing convened in her child custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline.

Federline and his lawyer were on hand as Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon began the hearing, which was scheduled after Gordon earlier this month suspended Spears' right to visit her sons.

Gordon allowed reporters into the courtroom for about one minute before he announced that the hearing was being closed.

The commissioner granted a motion from Spears' attorneys to quash a subpoena, but there was no information given about what the subpoena involved or to whom it had been issued.

A throng of photographers and reporters waited outside the downtown courthouse to see if Spears would come to what one attorney described as "the most significant hearing in the case so far." Law enforcement officers watched over the scene.

Spears, 26, has had trouble making recent legal dates: On Dec. 12, she called in sick for a court-ordered deposition, then arrived nearly two hours late at an attorney's office on its rescheduled date, Jan. 3.

Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he didn't know if Spears would come to Monday's hearing, and he indicated that it would be important for her to be there to take the opportunity to try to persuade the court restore visitation.

"You can't phone this one in," he said.

Police and emergency medical technicians who were summoned to Spears' home the night of Jan. — in a standoff involving her refusal to return the boys to Federline were expected to testify Monday, probably behind closed doors, Kaplan said.

Kaplan said he knew it was only a temporary measure when he obtained emergency court orders two weeks ago granting sole physical and legal custody to Federline.

Police were called by a court-appointed monitor Jan. — when Spears refused to hand over Jayden James, 1, and Sean Preston, 2, to Federline's security guard. She locked herself in a room with one of the boys.

Police officers spent hours at the house and then called Fire Department paramedics who placed her on a gurney and took her to a hospital with a crowd of paparazzi in pursuit. Spears left Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a day and half later.

Police have released no information about why Spears was taken to the hospital.

TV's "Dr. Phil" McGraw told celebrity news programs he was with Spears as she was released, saying she was in "dire" need of medical and psychological help. That drew a rebuke from Spears' relatives.

The day after the incident, Kaplan presented papers to the court commissioner, who awarded sole legal and physical custody of the boys to Federline and suspended Spears' visitation rights.

Kaplan said if visitation is restored, it would be under more restrictions than those originally imposed by Gordon.

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