Britney Spears told a court in Los Angeles on Wednesday that she wants her father charged with conservatorship abuse, during a hearing in which a judge agreed to her appointing her own lawyer, to bring about an end to the 13-year arrangement.
She described once again the torment of her conservatorship, in a repeat of her explosive June 23 testimony. Spears said that her hair vitamins and coffee had been taken from her.
‘Ma’am, that’s not abuse, that’s just f****** cruelty,’ she tearfully told Judge Brenda Penny, according to Sky News.
‘Excuse my language but it’s the truth.’
Spears, during an emotional appeal to the judge, requested a short break to compose herself.
Britney Spears on Wednesday said that she wanted her father Jamie (pictured) charg
She then called for her father be removed from the complex legal arrangement and be charged with ‘conservatorship abuse’.
She wants the conservatorship terminated without the need for a medical assessment, but said her priority was ousting her father from his role while allowing co-conservator Jodi Montgomery to remain in the meantime.
‘My dad needs to be removed today and I will be happy with Jodi helping me,’ Spears said.
Before she spoke, supporters of the #FreeBritney movement gathered outside Los Angeles Supreme Court for the hearing, where the star’s hand-picked attorney Mathew Rosengart asked to take over her case.
Judge Penny approved his request, meaning that for the first time since the conservatorship was brought in in 2008, Spears has a lawyer of her own choosing representing her.
Mathew Rosengart, far right, was on Wednesday appointed as Britney Spears’ lawyer, at her request. He is pictured in December 2016 with Matt Damon and Kenneth Lonergan
Britney Spears (2nd left) is seen with her father Jamie, brother Bryan and mother Lynne. The singer has not spoken to her father since before Christmas
The court hearing kicked off at 1.30pm local time at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles where Judge Penny was set to hear arguments on who should represent Spears in her battle to remove her father Jamie as her conservator and end the conservatorship.
The 39-year-old pop star picked her choice last week, signing a legal document requesting to hire the high-profile former federal prosecutor Rosengart.
This comes after her longtime court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham resigned in the wake of Spears’ bombshell court appearance on June 23 where she pleaded for the ‘abusive’ conservatorship to end.
Spears gave explosive testimony in last month’s hearing where she accused her father of controlling her life and fortune for the last 13 years and likened her situation to that of a sex-trafficked person.
#FreeBritney fans have gathered outside Los Angeles Supreme Court (above) for Britney Spears’ latest conservatorship hearing where the star’s hand-picked attorney Mathew Rosengart will argue to take over her case
Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement gather at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles where the hearing kicked off at 1.30pm local time
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed legal documents supporting Spears.
‘The court should ensure that Britney Spears has access to the tools she needs to make that choice meaningfully and to hire someone she trusts to advocate for her stated goal: to get out of her conservatorship,’ Zoe Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, said in a statement.
Spears is not expected to appear in court Wednesday for the closed door hearing, but instead spoke once again by phone.
She will still be represented by Ingham as the judge will rule on who should take over as her attorney.
Rosengart accepted her request to represent her in her conservatorship case, TMZ revealed on Tuesday.
He was scheduled to appear remotely at Wednesday’s hearing where he was expected to ask the judge to appoint him, arguing it is Spears’ constitutional right to choose her own lawyer.
Judge Brenda Penny was set to hear arguments on who should represent Spears (above) in her battle to remove her father Jamie as her conservator and end the conservatorship
Rosengart’s argument is that the singer ‘is entitled to due process, which includes the right to a competent lawyer’, TMZ reported.
The argument presents a challenge because the terms of the conservatorship mean Spears is prevented from signing any legally binding contracts without her father’s permission.
Rosengart is expected to argue against this, saying that Jamie should not have the power to reject her choice of lawyer – given that her lawyer is representing her in a case against Jamie himself.
Rosengart is well known as an attorney to the stars having represented a number of high-profile Hollywood clients, including Steven Spielberg, Ben Affleck and his brother Casey, Sean Penn and director Michael Mann.
Penny will also rule on a petition filed by wealth management firm Bessemer Trust to remove itself as a co-conservator of Spears’ multimillion-dollar estate.
Supporters also gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC as the hearing got under way
What is a conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal concept whereby a probate court appoints a person to manage an incapacitated person or minor’s financial and personal affairs.
It is often a relative. The terminology and details vary state-by-state, but the general principals are all similar.
The conservator’s duties include overseeing finances, medical care and living arrangements.
In Britney’s case, the conservators also oversee visitation arrangements with her two teenage sons, who are under the full custody of her ex-husband, Kevin Federline. It is most frequently used for someone who is severely mentally incapacitated, or suffering from dementia.
Yet in the 13 years of Britney’s conservatorship, she has released four albums – two of them going platinum; appeared as a judge on both The X Factor and American Idol; and had a four-year residency in Las Vegas that reportedly grossed close to $138 million.
The specific details of Britney’s case have not been revealed. Unless a judge says otherwise, they still retain rights to make certain decisions, according to the California handbook.
They can control salaries they earn, spend an allowance, retain legal representation, vote in elections, get married, draft their own wills, make medical decisions for themselves and ask a judge to terminate conservatorships or replace their guardians.
‘All conservatees have the right to be treated with understanding and respect and to have their wishes considered. They have all basic human rights, as well, and the right to be well cared for by you,’ the California handbook says.
Britney says that she has not had these rights. It is unclear whether this is a violation of her case, or as agreed.
There are two types of conservators: a conservator of the person, who looks after meals, housekeeping, transport, housing and recreation, and a conservator of the estate who manages finances and protects assets. Sometimes one person can play both roles.
The conservator of the estate must file periodic activities reports by the first year after their appointment and every two years following, until the relationship is terminated.
The estate managers have to disclose asset values, gains and losses, and show receipts for all expenditures of conservatorship funds. They are also prohibited from borrowing money from the conservatee or lending out their cash. Many countries have similar systems.
In the U.K. it is called a deputyship. In Britain, however, the court will appoint an independent conservator, rather than a family member.
Bessemer Trust filed the petition on July 1 after hearing the singer’s testimony where she said she wanted to be free from the conservatorship.
The New York-based firm is a private, independent office that oversees more than $140 billion for over 2,500 families, foundations, and endowments.
Bessemer Trust had requested to resign ‘due to changed circumstances,’ according to court documents filed on July 1.
According to the documents, Bessemer Trust said they had believed Spears’ conservatorship was ‘voluntary’ and that she consented to the firm acting as co-conservator, until the singer publicly revealed she wants the arrangement to end during an explosive court hearing on June 23.
Spears broke her silence on the conservatorship in public for the first time last month in damning testimony where she called the arrangement ‘abusive.’
The star spoke for 20 minutes where she told how her father controlled every aspect of her life including forcing her to have birth control implants to prevent her having anymore children.
Spears’ astonishing testimony sparked a flurry of activity in her case.
Jodi Montgomery, who is tasked with looking after the singer’s personal care, and the singer’s father Jamie Spears, who has controlled her estate since 2008, begun publicly bickering over who is to blame for the restrictions the singer complained about.
In a court filing last week, Montgomery accused Jamie Spears of ‘finger-pointing and media attacks,’ rather than working as a team to help the singer.
Jamie Spears, Montgomery, Ingham and the singer’s sister Jamie Lynn Spears, have all received death threats that have escalated since the pop star’s address to the judge on June 23, according to court documents.
Jamie Spears filed papers expressing concern about ‘dangerous rhetoric’ around the case, and asked the court to investigate his daughter’s claims and give him an opportunity to respond.
Meanwhile Larry Rudolph, the pop star’s manager of 25 years, resigned, saying Spears wanted to retire and his services were no longer needed.