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Spears not around as hearing begins

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Britney Spears was nowhere to be seen Monday 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 Monday from Spears’ attorneys to quash a subpoena, but there was no information about what the subpoena involved or to whom it had been issued. Live blog: Spears-Federline hearing

A group of people, possibly witnesses, were later allowed into the courtroom.

Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini, who was in court, told reporters at late morning that the first of an expected eight or nine witnesses had taken the stand. The number of witnesses suggested the hearing could last most of the day.

A throng of photographers and reporters waited outside the downtown courthouse to see if Spears, 26, would come to what one attorney described as the most significant hearing in the case so far. Law enforcement officers watched over the scene.

But Spears has had trouble making recent legal dates: On December 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, January 3.

Neither Spears nor Federline were under order to appear Monday. But Federline’s attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, suggested in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that it would be important for her to be there.

You can’t phone this one in, he 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.

Among those expected to testify, Kaplan said, were police and emergency medical technicians who were summoned to Spears’ home the night of Jan. 3.

A court-appointed monitor called police 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 Spears on a gurney and took her to a hospital with a crowd of paparazzi in pursuit. She 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 children 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. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Spears not around as hearing begins – found here.

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January 14, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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