A judge on Wednesday allowed Britney Spears to hire her own lawyer, in the latest twist in the 13-year drama over her conservatorship.
Ahead of the hearing, the #FreeBritney fans were in full force outside of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, many dressed up in Britney merchandise and holding signs calling for the conservatorship to end. The media presence outside the courthouse was substantial with Los Angeles outlets and national entertainment shows swarming the scene, in preparation of the pop star addressing the court.
As of this week, Spears had been in talks with power lawyer Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor who has represented Hollywood A-listers like Sean Penn, Steven Spielberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Keanu Reeves. Rosengart is the attorney of Spears’ choosing, marking a major step forward for the singer, who has been represented by a court-appointed attorney since she was placed under a conservatorship in 2008 with her father, Jamie Spears, acting as her sole conservator.
Bringing Rosengart on as her legal representative would be Spears’ first step in attempting to remove her father from her conservatorship — and then, take steps to terminate her conservatorship altogether.
Earlier this week, Spears had signed a legal document, selecting Rosengart. The paperwork stated: “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 hearing on Wednesday marked the second time this summer where the pop star addressed the court — this time, virtually at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse. On June 23, when she addressed the court for the first time publicly in her 13-year conservatorship, Spears made her appearance by phone, making an explosive testimony, calling her conservatorship “abusive” and asking the judge to terminate it altogether.
Spears made serious claims about her father and other conservators, including being forced to perform, being forced to change her medication and being blocked from marriage and having more children, as she alleged her conservators prevented her from removing her IUD birth control device.
Though she pleaded with the judge at the June 23 hearing to end her conservatorship without further evaluation, Spears has still not officially filed a petition to terminate her conservatorship — which could be explained by the game of legal musical chairs going on behind the scenes: over the course of the past couple of weeks, Spears’ longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, resigned after 25 years; wealth management firm, Bessemer Trust, pulled out as co-conservator of Spears’ estate; and her court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, asked the court to resign from the case.
Prior to selecting Rosengart as her lawyer, Spears had been represented by Ingham, since the start of her conservatorship. During her June hearing, Spears said that Ingham advised her not to speak up. “He told me I should keep it to myself,” she told the judge, though Ingham has never responded to Variety‘s request for comment on this specific allegation, and private conversations between the attorney and singer are unknown. After the singer had asked the judge to allow her to hire an attorney of her choosing at her previous hearing, Ingham filed paperwork to resign on July 6. When Ingham was appointed as Spears’ legal representative in 2008, the star had no say, which is typical for a conservatorship.
After Ingham resigned, an attorney for Spears’ mother, Lynne Spears, filed paperwork, urging the court to “listen to the wishes of her daughter” and allow her to hire her own private attorney, saying such a move would be “a first step.”
“Clearly, Conservatee needs private counsel to advise her as to her basic rights in this conservatorship,” Lynne Spears’ paperwork stated.
In response to the singer’s blistering testimony where she made serious claims about her treatment from her father, Jamie Spears filed legal documents pointing the finger at the co-conservator, Jodi Montgomery, stating he is concerned about his daughter’s conservator of person. An attorney for Montgomery firmly shot back at the elder Spears’ claims and stated that Montgomery will not resign as Spears’ conservator; in her filings, she provided texts from the star in which she asked Montgomery to stay on board and help her obtain her own attorney.
Since, Spears’ father and Montgomery have been at odds over Montgomery’s request to have her security fees covered, as she has received death threats throughout the course of the high-profile conservatorship case.
After Spears’ first explosive court hearing, public interest in the case exploded around the world with Hollywood, fans and #FreeBritney supporters rallying behind the singer. The conservatorship has been subject of renewed interest, especially in recent months, ever since the New York Times-produced documentary, “Framing Britney Spears,” was released in February, putting a spotlight on the situation. Just yesterday, the documentary received two Emmy nominations.