Court Rejects Gag Order in Britney Case

The ruling comes as attorneys and Spears's father attend a private custody hearing

Photo: INF

A Los Angeles family court commissioner on Tuesday rejected a request by Britney Spears‘s attorneys for a news blackout, saying it wasn’t the court’s job to protect the pop star from paparazzi.

Attorneys and Spears’s father Jamie, the temporary co-executor of her estate, then attended a closed-door session – the first scheduled custody hearing since the pop star’s most recent hospitalization.

Anne Kiley, a lawyer for Spears, asked for the gag order, saying the huge crowds of media that have swarmed the pop star during recent courthouse arrivals could be avoided if reporters were not told when proceedings were scheduled.

During one recent hearing, Spears got only as far as the curb, said she was scared of the crushing crowd of media, and left.

“The attorneys’ First Amendment right to discuss this case in the media really isn’t what’s important in this case,” Kiley argued to Commissioner Scott Gordon, adding that the intense media focus on her client has been “dangerous to [Spears] emotionally and physically. It’s a dangerous situation.”

Federline’s Attorney Opposes the Gag Order

Mark Vincent Kaplan, attorney for Kevin Federline, opposed the motion, contending a gag order would not stop the paparazzi from hounding Spears. He added that Kiley’s arguments “don’t pass Constitutional muster.”

After listening to a half-hour of arguments, Gordon said it was not up to him to protect Spears from paparazzi, and that he had never seen a gag order that would do what Kiley suggested.

“The concern really is the conduct of the photographers,” Gordon said. “That’s a law enforcement issue and an issue for the kind gentlemen and ladies of the press to deal with appropriately.”

He added, “The concern you have is a real one. [But] it should be dealt with without infringing on the First Amendment.”

Custody Hearing Held in Private

The attorneys then met in closed-session for the custody hearing.

Kiley appeared on behalf of Spears even though the lawyer’s firm, Trope and Trope, wants to drop her as a client.

Neither Spears nor Federline was in court. They were not required to be there.

As expected, the court did not change the current custody arrangement, which bars Spears from visiting her sons Preston, 2, and Jayden, 1. (She is, however, allowed telephone contact.) Still, at a future hearing, it is possible the 26-year-old singer – who hasn’t seen the boys since her Jan. 3 standoff with police – could be awarded some temporary physical access, insiders say.

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