Attorneys for Britney Spears Resign From Conservatorship Case
The court-appointed attorneys representing Britney Spears in her conservatorship case resigned Tuesday after the pop icon asked a judge for permission to hire her own counsel.
The high-profile case is testing whether California’s conservatorship laws protect the wealthy celebrities they are supposed to protect or the incomes of the conservators.
The case is drawing support among Spears’ fans but criticism of the court. Spears said in her testimony before the probate court that the conservatorship was “abusive.”
“I don’t trust people with what I’ve been through,” Spears said in her June 23 court testimony. “It’s not okay to force me to do anything I don’t want to do. […] I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. I don’t feel like I can live a full life.”
After she spoke in court, several celebrities shared their support for Spears on social media, including Cher, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey.
New representation for the 39-year-old singer “is necessary to protect her interests” the two attorneys wrote in their petition to the court to be released from the case. They did not elaborate on their relationship with her.
Nevertheless, the abuses Spears and her witnesses explained were enough to compel Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., to ask federal agencies last week to increase oversight of the country’s conservatorship systems.
Under state laws, conservatorship refers to court-appointed guardians or protectors who manage the financial affairs and sometimes the daily lives of other persons who are unable to properly care for themselves, such as through old age, physical impairment or mental limitations.
In Spears’ case, her guardian is her father, James, and licensed conservator Jodi Montgomery. Her father oversees her $60 million fortune while Montgomery looks after her personal care. She has been under their care since 2008.
She accuses her father of taking more money than he deserves and rampant abuses of her privacy and personal discretion, even requiring her to use birth control.
Spears’ attorneys resigned one day after Spears’ longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, also submitted his resignation.
He said he hadn’t communicated with her in more than 2½ years. He also said Spears indicated she planned to retire from her music career.
Until last month, Spears’ public statements indicated she was satisfied with her conservators. During the hearings in probate court, she told a different story.
“I was told I had to have another evaluation if I wanted to end the conservatorship,” Spears said. “But I’ve done enough. I’ve done more than enough. It’s embarrassing and demoralizing.”
“I just want my life back,” she added.
Among her complaints, the pop star says she is overworked by her management and her father. She must endure intense therapy while celebrity photographers wait outside trying to get photos of her crying.
Other times, she says she was told she must agree to demanding work schedules or she would not be allowed to see her boyfriend or her children.
“I’ve been in denial,” Spears said in court this week. “I’ve been in shock. I’m traumatized.”
At the same hearing, her attorney, Samuel D. Ingham, said he shared Spears’ concerns and was willing to cooperate with her. He also said she did not direct him to file a petition to resign from the case.
“All of us will happily abide by what she decides to do,” Ingham said.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 14.
The case is Conservatorship of Britney Jean Spears in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles.