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Judge in Elian Case Hospitalized

February 21, 2000

MIAMI (AP) _ The federal judge handling the case of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez was hospitalized Sunday and may have suffered a stroke, two of the judge’s colleagues said.

One colleague of U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler who has been in touch with Hoeveler’s family said the situation was not as grave as it initially appeared. Both colleagues spoke on condition of anonymity.

A spokeswoman at Doctors’ Hospital of Coral Gables, where colleagues said Hoeveler had been taken, could not confirm the judge was there or give his condition.

The judge had been scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday to decide whether the court has jurisdiction in Elian’s case. The boy is at the center of a custody battle involving his relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba, who wants him returned.

Chief U.S. District Judge Edward B. Davis said Sunday night that he saw no reason why the hearing should be postponed. Davis would not elaborate, but according to attorneys and federal judges, another judge could step in to hear the case.

Hoeveler, who also presided over the trial of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, was assigned the Elian case after Judge James Lawrence King withdrew from the case last month.

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