The federal appeals panel presiding over the fate of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez surprised observers not by what they did but how they did it.

Court-watchers said they had expected the three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to keep the status quo, extending an injunction that bars anyone from taking the boy out of the country pending their May 11 review of his appeal for an asylum hearing.