The conditions of Britney Spears’ child-custody case will stay the same after an emergency hearing took place Wednesday (January 23). In yet another strange development on the part of the singer, she made it to the courthouse — but somehow not the courtroom — for the hearing, which she had called.
“There is no change in the custody order that was in force since January 4, under which Miss Spears had no access,” Los Angeles Superior Court public-information director Allan Parachini told reporters outside the courthouse. “Mr. Federline, his lawyer [Mark Vincent Kaplan and Spears' lawyer Anne] Kiley was present. Miss Spears was not.”
Parachini said Spears arrived at the building entrance under the parking structure and walked with one of her lawyers and a couple of other people to the weapons-screening station to enter the courthouse, at which point he left her to go through security. Security was “adequate to ensure her safety and the safety of everyone else coming in the building,” Parachini said. “That’s why those security details exist.” However, Spears did not make it to the eighth floor, where her hearing took place. Shortly after leaving her at the security check, Parachini said he was informed that the singer wanted to leave the premises “and did so.” Asked why she left, he responded, “You would have to ask Miss Spears.”
Though Spears was not ordered to appear in court on Wednesday, the hearing had been held at her request, which made it “an unusual situation” that she didn’t show, Parachini told reporters. “You folks saw how this went down. It speaks for itself.”
The singer — who was deposed Monday — had requested the hearing after she was denied visitation rights with her two young sons. She wanted to ask the court to allow her previous monitored visitations to continue in a “therapeutic” setting instead. At her last hearing, Spears made it to the courthouse steps but turned around once she saw the crowd of paparazzi and news photographers. “I’m scared,” she told her entourage at the time. This time, Spears managed to make it to the courthouse itself with the aid of a chauffeur and her friend Sam Lufti — her lawyers weren’t sure if she’d make it to the hearing.
Inside the courtroom, Spears’ lawyer Anne Kiley repeatedly asked the judge for more time, to allow her client to find the location of the hearing and the sheriff’s department to make sure the singer had safe passage there. After five other cases were called during the 40-minute wait, Commissioner Scott Gordon asked Kiley if Spears would be coming in at all. “I don’t know,” Kiley told the court. “I don’t want to delay the court any further.” After the hearing, TMZ reported that Trope and Trope, the law firm that has been representing the singer but previously asked to be withdrawn as her counsel, has removed the request from its calendar.
The singer’s ex-husband Kevin Federline — wearing a gray suit, a white shirt and no tie — and his lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan made a motion to keep the proceedings closed to the media, at which point the 10 reporters present were kicked out of the courtroom. The next hearings in the case are set for February 4 and February 19.
“The end result is that the court considered various orders and those motions will be heard on the February dates now set,” Kaplan told reporters outside the courthouse. “There were emergency orders requested, but the court decided it would be more appropriate to address that in February so that each party can be present.”
While Spears had requested a change in her visitation rights, Federline had a motion of his own that he had asked the court to consider. The motion regarded the ex-couple’s custody-case evaluator and sought to clarify what the tests the court expert had carried out and would perform. “Generally, any custody evaluation requires both parties and the children to be interviewed. It requires certain witnesses who have relevant information to be interviewed,” Kaplan explained. “By law, a custody evaluation has to be received at least 10 days before [a] hearing, so for the hearing in April, it would need to be done by the end of March, and I don’t know if that is on track or not.”
Kaplan said he was “ready to go” whether or not Spears appeared and was not “personally offended” by her no-show, though he did take it as “a positive sign” that at least she made it to her deposition on Monday. “Whether that’s a function of an acknowledgement of responsibility or a resignation to the court’s authority, that we don’t know,” Kaplan said, noting that the deposition was not yet concluded and had “several more days” left to go.
On Tuesday night, Spears was in a minor car accident involving paparazzo boyfriend Adnan Ghalib, who was driving, and a motorcycle. Ghalib was videotaped trying to leave the scene at first, only to later exchange some contact info — using a wad of cash as a base to write on — with the injured motorcyclist as Spears waited in the car.
Ghalib, whose wife just filed for legal separation, recently spoke about the couple’s relationship in a series of interviews with “The Insider” and “Entertainment Tonight” that are airing this week. He insisted that his relationship with Spears was not just a ruse to sell photographs. “No, never,” he told “ET.” As for the pregnancy-test shot — his photo agency had the exclusive — he claimed that Spears “was hoping” she was pregnant with his child but confirmed that she is not in fact pregnant.
When asked why the singer wore her wedding dress out car-shopping with him, Ghalib said, “I actually didn’t know that was her wedding dress. Sometimes she likes to make an effort and dress up and wear something really nice.” As for why Spears was wearing his ring, he claimed he had an injury to his knuckle, so he let her wear it: “It’s as simple as that.” Asked if he knew how those events would be perceived in combination, he admitted they would arouse suspicion but claimed they weren’t stunts. “I don’t really think about it,” he said.
As for Spears’ children, Sean Preston and Jayden James, Ghalib claimed she wanted to re-establish a relationship with them. “She doesn’t talk about a strategy to get them back,” he said. “That’s something that’s very private to her. She loves those kids. It pains her a lot. You’ve got to understand the love she has for her kids outweighs anything else.”
[This story was originally published at 2:03 pm E.T. on 1.23.2008]