After playing a waiting game all morning, Britney Spears showed up at a court in Los Angeles on Monday (January 14) for the afternoon session of a child-custody hearing to try to regain visitation rights with her two young sons — only to leave just minutes later, telling her companions, “I’m scared.” Kevin Federline, who was present, won a continuation of an emergency order giving him sole custody for the time-being. Spears will continue to have no visitation rights, at least until the next status hearing, scheduled for February 19.
“The word ’victory’ is not something Mr. Federline or his counsel would subscribe to this result,” Federline’s attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan told reporters afterward. “Not that it wasn’t the result he was seeking, but this was a grave situation for everybody. Mr. Federline is pleased that it’s an appropriate order, but he is not joyous or victorious. His hope for the future is that at some point, he will be able to parent the children, the minor children, with participation from their mother.”
Federline gained temporary sole legal and physical custody of Sean Preston and Jayden James in an emergency hearing two weeks ago, after Spears was hospitalized and placed on an involuntary hold. The singer was expected to show up in court to explain what happened during that custody standoff on January 3, which ended when she was taken away by ambulance. Six witnesses from that evening’s events — including Los Angeles police officers Douglas Bowler and Eric Martin, parenting coach Lisa Hacker, court-appointed monitor Pamela Strong and Federline bodyguard Lonnie Jones — testified Monday during the morning and afternoon sessions; Federline himself testified as well.
In addition to Federline maintaining sole custody, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon also decided that a prior order requiring a parenting coach is suspended, since Spears would have no contact with the children in the interim.
Spears, who was also expected to testify, appeared to be freaked out by the swarm of photographers and reporters outside the courthouse. Her Cadillac Escalade circled the block around the courthouse a few times, and as she got out of the car for one brief moment, she was videotaped telling the paparazzi and her entourage, “Move back. I’m scared. Stop it. Stop it. I want to get back in the car. Let me get in the car, please.”
A spokesperson for Los Angeles Superior Court told reporters that though the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department had a security plan in place for Spears’ arrival, she did not notify anyone when she was coming or through what entrance. “The deputies did everything they could,” Allan Parachini told reporters.
The goings-on outside, however, had no impact on the proceedings inside the courtroom, Parachini said. “The court was not officially aware of any of that,” he said. “This result is exclusively about what was before the court. The testimony was about that evening,” he said, referring to January 3.
Despite rumors that Spears was required to appear, Parachini clarified that the singer was not compelled to appear or to testify. “She was certainly welcome to come,” he said. “But people think she was ordered to be here today. She was not ordered to be here.”
While testimony continued inside the courtroom, Spears led paparazzi around town as she visited Little Brown Church in Van Nuys and grabbed a quick lunch at Gaucho Grill in Studio City. While at the church, she was seen leaving a note in a can intended for prayers at the front of the chapel.
Members of the media were ejected from Monday’s proceedings after the judge granted a motion to clear the court. Gordon also granted one other motion to quash a subpoena, but there was no word who the subpoena had been issued to or what it involved, since it was lodged under seal in a closed hearing. However, copies were released to the Department of Children and Family Services.
Spears’ lawyers from the firm Trope & Trope — Sorrell Trope, Anne Kiley and Tara Scott — all continued to represent her on Monday despite their pending motion to be removed as her legal counsel . A hearing about that matter is scheduled for February 4.