More than 13 years after being deemed mentally unfit to decide on her personal authorized illustration, Britney Spears can rent a high-powered Hollywood lawyer, a Los Angeles choose dominated on Wednesday, signaling a new section within the battle to finish the conservatorship that controls the singer’s life.
The resolution by Judge Brenda Penny got here on the first listening to since Ms. Spears, 39, referred to as the conservatorship that she has lived beneath since 2008 abusive and mentioned that she wished it to finish with out her having to endure extra psychiatric evaluations.
Ms. Spears’s emotional speech on June 23 triggered a flurry of courtroom filings in current weeks as these concerned within the conservatorship traded blame for the singer’s unhappiness and professed lack of private company. Her longtime court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, requested to resign, as did a wealth administration agency that was set to share management of Ms. Spears’s property along with her father, James P. Spears.
On Wednesday, the choose accepted Mr. Ingham’s resignation, together with that of co-counsel he had introduced on, permitting Ms. Spears to rent Mathew S. Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, who has labored with celebrities together with Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg.
Mr. Rosengart, who is anticipated to aggressively pursue a path to finish the authorized association, attended the listening to in particular person on behalf of Ms. Spears. When the choose requested Ms. Spears, who attended the listening to remotely by cellphone, if she wished to retain Mr. Rosengart, the singer mentioned that she did and that they’d spoken lately.
Lawyers for Mr. Spears didn’t object to permitting Ms. Spears to decide on her new lawyer.
On Wednesday, Judge Penny additionally accepted the resignation of Bessemer Trust, the funding agency that requested to resign after Ms. Spears’s speech in courtroom, doubtlessly leaving the singer’s estranged father as soon as once more in sole management of her roughly $60 million property.
Scrutiny over Ms. Spears’s care has elevated in current months, culminating in her asking in open courtroom how she might nonetheless be thought of unable to look after herself whilst she continued to usher in tens of millions of as a pop star. The conservatorship that oversees her private life and funds was permitted by the courtroom in 2008, after Mr. Spears petitioned for authorized authority over the singer as a result of of considerations about her psychological well being and substance abuse.
Yet even earlier than her speech in courtroom final month, Ms. Spears had lengthy expressed severe objections to the conservatorship and questioned her father’s health as conservator, confidential courtroom paperwork recently obtained by The New York Times revealed.
At the June 23 hearing, Ms. Spears raised questions about Mr. Ingham’s advocacy on her behalf, saying that she had been unaware that she could ask to terminate the conservatorship.
“I’m sorry for my ignorance, but I honestly didn’t know that,” she said, adding: “My attorney says I can’t — it’s not good, I can’t let the public know anything they did to me.”
“He told me I should keep it to myself, really,” Ms. Spears said.
It is unknown what private discussions Mr. Ingham and Ms. Spears have had over the years about ending the conservatorship, but Mr. Ingham said last month that he would step aside if asked.
Mr. Ingham was initially named as her court-appointed representative while Ms. Spears was hospitalized and found to lack the capacity to hire a lawyer at the outset of the conservatorship.
A lawyer for the singer’s mother, Lynne Spears, who is an interested party in the conservatorship, asked the court to allow the singer to choose her own lawyer this month, arguing that the singer should not be held to a decision made in 2008: “Her capacity is certainly different today.”
Mr. Spears, who was singled out as oppressive by his daughter in her recent remarks, called for an investigation into Ms. Spears’s claims — including that she was forced to perform and remain on birth control — arguing that he has not been in contact with her and has not overseen her personal care since late 2019.
Jodi Montgomery, a professional conservator, took over Ms. Spears’s personal and medical care on an ongoing temporary basis in the fall of 2019. Lawyers for Ms. Montgomery, citing text messages from Ms. Spears, have said that the singer wishes for Ms. Montgomery to continue in that role for the time being.
They added that Ms. Montgomery was currently working on a “comprehensive Care Plan” with Ms. Spears’s medical team that would “offer Ms. Spears a path to ending her Conservatorship of the Person, as she so unequivocally desires.”
Samantha Stark contributed reporting from Los Angeles.