Britney Spears can hire own lawyer, judge rules

LOS ANGELES — A California judge on Wednesday granted pop singer Britney Spears’ request to hire her own lawyer in her conservatorship battle. Spears also said she wanted to bring formal charges against her father over his role in the conservatorship.

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The pre-scheduled court hearing addressed the resignation of Spears’ court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, who has handled her case since 2008. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny approved Ingham’s resignation and his replacement with Spears’ chosen attorney, former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, NBC News reported.

Penny’s ruling came three weeks after Spears denounced the conservatorship that controlled her life since 2008 as abusive.

At least 10 petitions were on the docket for the hearing, and all of them were funded by the pop singer’s money, the Los Angeles Times reported.

During Wednesday’s hearing, an emotional Spears explained to Penny that she was “extremely scared” of her father, Jamie Spears, and that she is not willing to be evaluated in order to remove him.

“I’m here to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse,” the singer told the court. According to NBC News, Spears later said that she wanted her father investigated and that “this conservatorship has allowed my dad to ruin my life.”

She told the court that every part of her life has been controlled, down to her diet, and that she worked 70 hours a week.

“Their goal was to make me feel crazy and I’m not,” Britney Spears said. “And that’s not OK.”

On June 30, Penny signed an order denying the singer’s request to have her father removed from the financial aspects of her conservatorship. That request was first filed in November 2020 by Ingham, NPR reported.

Spears appeared in court on June 23 to directly appeal to the court. In an emotional statement, Spears said that she was being exploited and “bullied” by the conservatorship -- and specifically, by her Jamie Spears, 68.

“I’m traumatized, I’m not happy,” Spears, 39, said during the June 23 appeal. “I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, It’s insane.”

The singer also claimed that she was forced to work, take lithium and go to a rehab facility, and was prevented from riding in boyfriend Sam Asghari’s car, getting married, or having another child, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The singer’s complaints were included in a document filed June 29 by her father’s attorney, Vivian Thoreen, the newspaper reported. The document stated that Britney Spears’ complaints were “serious allegations regarding forced labor, forced medical treatment and therapy, improper medical care, and limitations on personal rights, to name a few.”

“Mr. Spears requests instructions and an order from the Court to investigate the veracity of the allegations and claims made by Ms. Spears at the June 23, 2021 status hearing,” the document stated.

Britney Spears also claimed during the June 23 hearing that she did not know she could petition to terminate the conservatorship, The New York Times reported. Ingham then asked the court to allow him to resign from his role, the newspaper reported. A law firm Ingham recently used to assist him, Loeb & Loeb, also presented the court with a letter of resignation.

Earlier this week, Spears signed a legal document, selecting Rosengart as her attorney, NBC News reported.

“Pursuant to my statement in open court on June 23, 2021, my rights, and my desire to end the above-referenced conservatorship as to my father, Jamie P. Spears, it is my desire to choose and retain my own counsel, at Greenberg, Traurig, LLP as set forth above,” the document stated.

>> Judge denies Britney Spears’ motion to remove father from conservatorship

Britney Spears requested the June 23 hearing in April through Ingham, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last year, Ingham began requesting major changes to the conservatorship, including stripping power from Jamie Spears, who had been overseeing her personal life and finances, The New York Times reported.

Jamie Spears gained control of all aspects of his daughter’s life 13 years ago after the singer publicly struggled with her mental health, NPR reported. Everything from her performances, finances and her relationships with her two now-teenage sons was under her father’s control, the website reported.

Jamie Spears now only oversees her daughter’s fortune, worth nearly $60 million, along with a wealth management firm she requested, The New York Times reported. A professional conservator took over her personal care on an ongoing, temporary basis in 2019, the newspaper reported.

In March 2021, Ingham filed a petition asking that Jodi Montgomery be made permanent conservator of Spears’ person, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was a job Montgomery has held temporarily since September 2019. On June 29, Jamie Spears challenged that in a legal document filed by his attorney.

>> Britney Spears asks judge to end court conservatorship

Last year, Ingham stated in a filing that Britney Spears “strongly opposed” her father as conservator, NPR reported. Spears went as far as refusing to perform if her father remained in charge of her career.

In February 2021, Penny allowed Bessemer Trust to become a co-conservator for the financial division of Britney Spears’ arrangement, NPR reported.

About a week after the June 23 hearing, Bessemer Trust asked to resign from the arrangement, The New York Times reported, citing court documents. Bessemer Trust cited Britney Spears’ criticism of the arrangement as the reason for requesting to bow out, the newspaper reported. Once the firm became aware of the singer’s wish to end the conservatorship, Bessemer no longer wanted to be involved.

A lawyer for the singer’s mother, Lynne Spears, has also asked the court to allow her daughter to choose her own lawyer, according to The New York Times. Lynne Spears argued that her daughter should not be held to a decision made in 2008: “Her capacity is certainly different today.” The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday filed an amicus brief in support of the court’s allowing Britney Spears to choose her next lawyer herself.

Check back for more on this developing story.