Britney Spears Has a Small Win in Conservatorship Battle
Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle against her father, Jamie Spears, continues, but the pop star had a small victory on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old singer, who is currently fighting to have her dad removed from her 12-year conservatorship, will now be allowed to expand her legal team after her petition request was granted. Britney was not present for the latest hearing, though her mother, Lynne Spears, her attorney, Samuel Ingham, and her dad were present.
The news comes after Jamie filed paperwork arguing against the petition to add more lawyers to his daughter’s legal team because it would cost too much money.
“Clearly, James’ objectives are either to filibuster the appointment of a corporate fiduciary indefinitely or to dominate the entire process himself, including the selection of the fiduciary,” Ingham contended last week. “The only way to assure that Britney’s voice is heard will be for her to have qualified litigation counsel available in order to place her on a level playing field with James.”
Britney’s legal team was adamant in the court docs that she does not share her father’s “vision of a future in which she resumes performing and leaves the management of her estate completely to him as she did in the past.”
“James himself holds the key to reducing or eliminating litigation in this case,” Ingham added.
In a hearing last Wednesday in Los Angeles, in which all parties appeared remotely, Jamie’s legal team requested that Britney herself, not just her attorneys, be present during such court proceedings. The singer’s lawyer, however, argued that it was not necessary for her to show up for such hearings.
“I am the exclusive source of information in public pleadings as to what my client wants,” Ingham told the court.
Jamie’s lawyer, Lauriann Wright, argued that in the past, Ingham has brought up statements that Britney made that felt like hearsay. “Perhaps it would be best for Ms. Spears to appear so we all know what she’s thinking,” Wright said. “We are not trying to force Ms. Spears into court either.”
Ingham responded, “It’s clear counsel has a larger agenda here. …From my perspective it is self-evident that conservativees can’t file verified declarations because they lack the legal capacity to do so.”
Last week’s court proceeding was originally set so Jamie could get approved his record of Britney’s finances, which show how the money in the conservatorship is spent. Ingham said they needed more time to look over the material, and has already indicated in court documents that he plans to file written objections on Britney’s behalf regarding the financial documents submitted. This matter will now be addressed in court on Nov. 10.
This all comes after Jamie recently withdrew his petition to have attorney Andrew M. Wallet, who previously served as Britney’s co-conservator from 2008 to March 2019, back on as a co-conservator of his daughter’s estate.
The singer had already objected to this request, claiming in court docs that she wouldn’t be able to afford Wallet as her co-conservator due in large part to that the fact that she doesn’t have a desire to perform and therefore isn’t pulling in as much money.
“To this date, Britney has not resumed performing and has stated that she does not desire to do so at this time,” the documents read, adding that Wallet is “uniquely unsuitable” for the role.
There has been a lot of back-and-forth in this conservatorship battle. Last month, Britney objected to her father’s petition to seal court proceedings and the reporter’s transcript related to the petition. In the court documents obtained by ET, Ingham stated that Britney doesn’t want information on her conservatorship to be sealed and in fact, wants to keep her fans informed.
“Britney strongly believes it is consistent not only with her personal best interests but also with good public policy generally that the decision to appoint a new conservator of her estate be made in as open and transparent a manner as possible,” the documents read. “The sealing motion is supposedly being brought by her father to ‘protect’ Britney’s interests, but she is adamantly opposed to it.”
“Although the sealing motion is supposedly for her ‘protection,’ Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret,” the documents continue. “The moment that James obtained from this Court the power to handle Britney’s affairs on her behalf, he surrendered a large measure of privacy as to the manner in which he exercises that power. Transparency is an essential component in order for this Court to earn and retain the public’s confidence with respect to protective proceedings like this one. In this case, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching.”
And back in August, Britney asked the court to appoint Bessemer Trust Company, N.A. to serve as conservator of her estate, in a further attempt to remove her father as the sole conservator. Britney’s mom, Lynne Spears, has also backed Bessemer Trust Company to serve as conservator over her daughter’s estate.
“Britney is strongly opposed to her father continuing as the sole conservator of her estate,” the filing states. “Rather, without in any way waiving her right to seek termination of this conservatorship in the future, she strongly prefers to have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in this role.”
The court documents also state that this conservatorship is “voluntary,” and that Britney does not have a developmental disability, nor is she a patient in or on leave of absence from a state institution under the jurisdiction of the California Department of State Hospitals or the California Department of Developmental Services.
ET has spoken with Britney’s former makeup artist, Billy B Brasfield, who said he reconnected with her after a #FreeBritney rally that took place outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles on Aug. 19.
“It’s inspiring to see how well she is managing the conservatorship case and she absolutely sees a light at the end of this very dark tunnel that she’s been in,” he told ET of the pop star, who he said he’d been in direct contact with via phone calls and text messages. “She said that she wants people to know that she sees what’s going on.”
Reporting by Lauren Zima and Brianna Campbell.
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