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Britney Spears’ father suspended as conservator of singer’s estate after 13 years

Britney Spears
Britney Spears arrives at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards in New York.
(Evan Agostin / Invision / Associated Press)

A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday suspended Jamie Spears, father of Britney Spears, as conservator of the pop star’s estate, which he has controlled for 13 years, and set the stage for ending the conservatorship altogether.

John Zabel, a certified public accountant handpicked by Britney Spears’ team, will temporarily succeed Jamie Spears as a fiduciary, interim conservator.

Judge Brenda J. Penny delivered her landmark decision in Spears’ turbulent conservatorship case Wednesday afternoon at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown L.A., where hordes of impassioned #FreeBritney demonstrators gathered to support the pop sensation.

Outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse Wednesday, demonstrators donned pink-accented “Free Britney” T-shirts and held signs calling for investigations of the singer’s management and security personnel, who have come under immense scrutiny following the buzzy release of FX/Hulu’s “Controlling Britney Spears” documentary.

“I do believe that the suspension of James Spears as conservator … is in the best interest of the conservatee,” Penny said, referring to Jamie Spears’ birth name. “The current situation is not tenable. It reflects a toxic environment, which requires the immediate suspension of Jamie Spears today.”

Penny ordered Jamie Spears to turn over all assets to Zabel as soon as possible. She also set a hearing for Nov. 12 regarding the forthcoming termination of the conservatorship, followed by another court date Dec. 13 to tie up loose financial threads.

In court, Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, demanded an immediate suspension of her father from the conservatorship and accused him of abusing the singer since childhood, as well as in the duration of the conservatorship, which was put in place in 2008. He also asked the judge to set a hearing in 30 to 45 days to end the conservatorship altogether.

Fans celebrate outside the courtroom after the announcement that Britney Spears'
Fans celebrate outside the courtroom.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Rosengart cited the “unfathomable” lines allegedly crossed by Jamie Spears, referring to allegations in a recent New York Times report and documentary that the security team hired by Jamie secretly placed an audio recording device in his daughter’s bedroom and captured hundreds of hours of private interactions.

Jamie Spears’ attorney, Vivian Thoreen, immediately opposed Penny’s decision, a move Rosengart called “disrespectful.”

The latest development in the highly publicized conservatorship saga comes on the heels of dueling court filings from attorneys representing the pop star and her father. They had disagreed on how to move forward with the legal arrangement, which the singer also has called “abusive.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s court hearing in Britney Spears’ conservatorship case, these 10 stories will bring you up to speed.

Soon after he was hired by Britney Spears in July, Rosengart petitioned the court to oust Jamie Spears as conservator of the recording artist’s estate and replace him temporarily with another fiduciary, interim conservator: certified public accountant Jason Rubin.

In August, Jamie Spears filed a petition to step down as conservator of his daughter’s estate — but on his own terms. The court document, filed by Thoreen, argued: “There are, in fact, no actual grounds for suspending or removing Mr. Spears as Conservator of the Estate,” but promised that her client would eventually transition out of the role once a couple of lingering issues were resolved.

What started as a blogger’s tagline has become a global rallying cry for justice and freedom. The story of #FreeBritney, as told by the movement’s leaders.

That wasn’t enough for Team Britney, which swiftly accused Jamie Spears of scheming to swindle $2 million in payments before officially relinquishing control of his daughter’s finances.

In a surprise turn of events, Jamie Spears later filed to end the conservatorship altogether in L.A. County Superior Court, insisting that “all he wants is what is best for his daughter.”

While celebrating what he deemed a “massive” legal victory for his client, Rosengart promptly accused Jamie Spears of surrendering in an effort to dodge consequences for his alleged misconduct amid mounting public scrutiny.

The avalanche of recent activity surrounding Spears’ long-running conservatorship was triggered by another hearing in June, during which the “Lucky” performer declared she wanted out of the legal arrangement without having to submit to psychological evaluation.

In blistering court testimony, Britney Spears alleged that her conservators forced her to work nonstop and take medication that left her incapacitated, as well as prohibiting her from marrying her boyfriend (now fiancé) and removing the intrauterine device that prevents her from having children.

After a new documentary raised surveillance allegations, Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, isn’t cutting Jamie Spears any slack.

Penny’s decision Wednesday was the latest chip away at the elder Spears’ authority over his daughter. In 2019, Jamie Spears stepped down as the conservator of his daughter’s person — a separate role from that of conservator of her estate.

He was replaced by court-appointed conservator Jodi Montgomery, the singer’s longtime care manager, who has since been tasked with handling her legal and medical oversight.

In July, Montgomery and Britney’s medical team were in agreement that it would not be in the artist’s best interest to have her father remain as a conservator.

A person wearing Britney Spears sunglasses cries as they hug a woman.
A Britney Spears fan who goes by the name Jakeyonce, center in glasses, cries outside the courtroom Wednesday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Outside the courthouse Wednesday, demonstrators donned pink-accented “Free Britney” T-shirts and held signs calling for investigations of the singer’s management and security personnel, who have come under immense scrutiny following the buzzy release of FX/Hulu’s “Controlling Britney Spears” documentary.

More than an hour before the hearing began, protesters chanted: “What do we want? Free Britney! When do we want it? Now!” and “Britney’s body, Britney’s choice,” among other rallying cries.

One person wielded a sign bearing the words, “Britney doesn’t need a conservatorship. It needs her.”

Britney Spears’ team returns to court for a hearing that will address her father’s role in her 13-year conservatorship saga. Here’s what to expect.

A parade of camera crews and news trucks lined the sidewalks and streets as demonstrators called on the media to “Leave Britney alone!” By late morning, the #FreeBritney crowd had shut down Grand Avenue, literally taking to the streets with a police presence nearby.

“What’s happening to her is horrible, and it’s been hidden for so long,” said Jordan Frazer, a 21-year-old DoorDash driver and YouTuber from Hollywood. “Now that it’s finally out … anyone in their right mind would be here supporting her and anyone else in a similar situation.”

“For the longest time, they just thought we were gays and girls just having fun and wearing pink, but this is bigger than just Britney, and this is bigger than just freeing her,” said Bijanca Star, a 27-year-old blockchain professional from Miami. “She is a case for the people who don’t have voices.”

Welcome, latecomers to Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle (and experts who want to test their wits). This Q&A will tell you all you need to know.

“Britney is such a perfect example of everything that I’ve been fighting for,” said Mona Montgomery, a 79-year-old former conservatorship attorney from Glendale.

“She represents thousands of people who are presently locked up against their will, with no due process … and she’s an icon of a group of people who need to be freed.”

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.


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