Britney Spears is getting a chance to speak to the court directly about her conservatorship.
Samuel Ingham, Spears’ court-appointed attorney, made the request for his client to address the court herself at Tuesday’s (April 27) hearing in Los Angeles. Ingham told Judge Brenda Penny, who is overseeing the singer’s conservatorship, as well as Britney’s parents, James and Lynne Spears, that Britney wants to talk to the court herself over the status of her conservatorship. The request came at the end of the Tuesday’s hearing when Ingham said he still had some “housekeeping issues” to discuss.
“Conservatee asks the court for a status hearing so she she can address the court directly,” Ingham told the judge.
In addition, Ingham said Britney was requesting that the hearing take place as soon as possible.
“My client has asked that it be done on an expedited basis,” said Ingham.
Penny agreed to Britney’s request, setting the hearing for June 23 and saying “the purpose of the status hearing would be the status of the conservatorship.”
The other matters, including Britney’s request to appoint Jodi Montgomery, a private professional fiduciary, as her conservator instead of her father James, who she asked to resign, were continued until July 14 by mutual agreement of Britney and her parents' legal teams.
The original hearing was scheduled to address Ingham's motion filed on March 23 asking James to resign as Britney's conservator and to appoint Jodi Montgomery, a private professional fiduciary, in his place. Montgomery has been serving as the pop singer’s temporary conservator since Sept. 9, 2019 when her father temporarily relinquished his role citing health reasons at the time.
Spears' court documents filed at the time also make clear that her requested appointment of Montgomery does not mean in any way that she is giving up her rights in the future to end the conservatorship entirely.
“[Spears] expressly reserves the right to petition for the termination of this conservatorship,” states the court filing. “Nothing in the within petition shall be deemed to constitute a waiver of that right.”
If approved by the court, Montgomery will have the sole authority to retain 24/7 caretakers and security guards for Spears. She will also have the power to restrict and limit visitors except for Ingham. Montgomery will also be given the power to communicate with any of Spears’ doctors.
According to the boxes checked on the petition form, Spears requires a conservator because she is unable to properly provide for her personal needs of “physical health, food, clothing, or shelter” and unable to manage her financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.
Last August, when Judge Penny extended Spears' conservatorship until 2021, Ingham filed a motion saying his client did not want her father to continue to serve as her conservator. Ingham said at the time in court papers that the “conservators rescued her from a collapse, exploitation by predatory individuals and financial ruin.”. Ingham described the first phase of her conservatorship as a “triage” to save her, but he says since then, her life and needs have changed. Ingham says he believes that the changes being requested by Britney are in her best interest.
He describes Britney's second phase of her conservatorship, that ran until her Las Vegas residency ended on Dec. 31, 2017, and her last live tour performance on Oct. 21 , 2018, as her performing period. During that time, Spears needed the assistance of a personal manager, a business manager as well as many other individuals. But now, Ingham says Spears is in a new phase with different needs and wishes and she has no desire to perform.
“We are now at a point where the conservatorship must be changed substantially in order to reflect the major changes in her current lifestyle and her stated wishes,” Ingham writes in the motion.
Ingham also said at the time that Britney is “strongly opposed” to her father continuing as the sole conservator of her estate. Instead, she prefers to have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in this role, according to Ingham. Ingham said in those court papers that he expected her dad to “aggressively contest” Britney’s wishes.
There were technical issues during Tuesday’s hearing, which took place remotely. At one point, James blurted out, “Lynne, mute your phone!” Things between the two parents appeared strained. Prior to Tuesday's hearing, James' legal team filed court papers on Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Britney’s mother Lynne of not acting in her daughter’s best interests. According to his court papers, James says Lynne has not been involved in her daughter’s conservatorship until very recently and is causing undue delay and “stirring up more unnecessary media attention.” While James says he has been “very cautious, limited, and thoughtful in dealing with the media,” the filing says Lynne has “exploited her daughter’s pain and trauma for personal profit by publishing a book about (Britney).”
James also accuses Lynne of intentionally or carelessly serving Sam Lutfi, Britney’s former manager, with court papers. “Factually speaking, the Conservator obtained two permanent restraining orders against Mr. Lutfi and was in litigation with him for about seven years after Mr. Lutfi sued the Conservatorship in 2009,” reads James' motion. “Mr. Lutfi does not have any interest in this Conservatorship, and his counsel should not have been served with Lynne Spears’ objections.
According to James' court papers, “Despite having zero involvement in her daughter’s conservatorship until very recently, Lynne Spears is asserting claims as if she were a party directly involved in the litigation (which she is not).”