A throng of photographers, reporters and fans of rock siren Madonna descended on a Los Angeles courtroom Friday hoping for a glimpse of the singer on the witness stand instead of the stage.
But Madonna, who is embroiled in a legal dispute over whether her shrubs block a neighbor's million-dollar view of the city, was a no-show.
Disappointing dozens of paparazzi, Superior Court Judge Sally Disco rescinded an earlier order that she appear in court after attorneys for Madonna and her neighbor, Donald Robinson, agreed to use a sworn deposition from her in lieu of testimony.
Madonna and Robinson are suing each other over whether she is complying with restrictions requiring that she trim trees and hedges on her property in the Hollywood Hills so the panoramic view of the city below can be enjoyed from his $3.5-million home on Oriole Way.
Robinson, a real estate broker, estimated the loss of value to his home to be about $1 million.
The fight began in 1987--before Madonna bought the house--when Robinson sued the previous tenant for allegedly failing to trim foliage in accordance with an agreement.
That agreement, according to papers filed in court, ensures "that all lots will continue to enjoy (an) unobstructed city view."
Madonna, whose last name is Ciccone, countersued Robinson, accusing him of trespassing on her property, "making threatening, abusive and derogatory statements to and/or about (Madonna) and cutting various trees and plants" on her property.
"We didn't ask to be in a lawsuit with Madonna," said Robinson's lawyer, Robert Rigdon. "She stepped right into this."
Rigdon called Madonna's lawsuit a "red herring" and accused her of trying to "hide behind a bunch of attorneys and agents and ignore her agreements."
But Madonna's attorney, Meghan Serwin, argued that the evidence will show her client has met "all of her obligations."
Serwin also said that Robinson had "cut a hole" between hedges separating their property and that "he and others stare at her, watch her and continually violate her property."
After the one-day trial, Judge Disco took the case under submission.