Three weeks ago, Britney Spears publicly expressed for the first time that she wants her “abusive” conservatorship to end, and now she’s given another emotional testimony as the court is considering a series of petitions that could substantially change the status quo.
A long list of items were on the docket for the Wednesday afternoon (July 14) hearing before L.A. County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny — and the first to be decided was that Spears can hire Hollywood power lawyer Mathew Rosengart of Greenberg Traurig in her pursuit of ending the arrangement.
Spears broke down in tears while addressing the court via telephone, and demanded that her father be charged with conservatorship abuse. “I want to get my dad removed, ma’am,” Spears said to Penny. “I’m angry and I will go there.” Spears initially asked Penny to clear the courtroom before she spoke, but the judge indicated it was an open proceeding and she’d need to have specifics about her intended testimony before doing that.
The artist also requested that Rosengart be appointed as her personal attorney, and Penny moved the matter up the agenda to address it early on. The judge asked about his firm’s trust and estate practice, which Rosengart described as “substantial.” His team will include Eric Rowen, Scott Bertzyk and Lisa McCurdy, whom he introduced to the court.
“Ms. Spears does absolutely have a right to select her own attorney,” Rosengart argued, adding that her powerful and compelling comments in the previous hearing showed she was more than capable of making the decision. Penny ultimately approved the appointment. Longtime court-appointed attorney Samuel D. Ingham III and co-counsel from Loeb & Loeb were also formally removed as Spears attorneys.
Ingham interrupted proceedings multiple times, saying Spears was texting him indicating that she wanted to speak. (She apparently didn’t have Rosengart’s number saved in her phone.)
In one of the hearing’s more powerful moments, newly installed Rosengart said, “This is not working. We know that. The goal is to end the conservatorship. We have questions if this was even the proper forum back in 2008.”
Rosengart continued to argue that Jamie Spears, after hearing his daughter’s words in both hearings, should voluntarily leave his role as conservator of her estate.
“We will be filing as quickly as possible to get Mr. Spears removed from the conservatorship,” Rosengart said. “If he loves his daughter, it is time to step aside and move on so she can have her life back.”
Jamie’s attorney Vivian Thoreen bluntly declined the request and said, “There is no basis for him stepping down … There is a path forward without all the hysteria.”
She added that one of the biggest issues is Britney’s “belief that her father is responsible … for a litany of horrible things that have happened to her, but that could not be further from the truth.”
Instead of taking a planned recess and then coming back to address the remaining issues that had been on the docket — such as whether there should be an investigation into claims Spears raised during the June 23 hearing, if Jodi Montgomery should be made the permanent conservator of Spears’ person, and what security costs are appropriate for those attached to the conservatorship who are receiving death threats — a follow-up hearing was scheduled for Sept. 29.
Penny emphasized “everyone should be working collaboratively. It’s not about anybody else but [Britney].”
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.