Britney Spears Conservatory Hearing: What Are the Stakes?

Some changes have come quickly in the three months since Britney Spears first spoke publicly about the Guardianship which has overseen her life for more than 13 years, calling the arrangement abusive and exploitative during a hearing on June 23.

For the first time in this case, Ms Spears, 39, was allowed to hire her own lawyer, replacing a court-appointed lawyer. A bank that was to start handling the singer’s money, alongside her father, has resigned, as has her longtime manager. And Ms Spears, who said she believed guardianship would prevent her from getting married or having a baby, got engaged to her boyfriend, Sam Asghari.

But other changes Ms Spears has requested from the Guardianship – in some cases for many years – remain open questions as the case returns to a Los Angeles courtroom for its final status hearing.

Ms Spears’ new attorney, Mathew S. Rosengart, in recent weeks has doubled down on his attempts to remove the singer’s father, James P. Spears, as his estate curator, calling it actively harmful to his well-being and requesting further investigation into Mr. Spears’ conduct. Mr Rosengart has said in court documents that he will end the trusteeship entirely this fall.

Yet even as Mr Spears, 69, backtracked this summer, agreeing to finally step down before seeking an end to guardianship earlier this month, he continued to oppose his suspension or termination. immediate revocation.

These are some of the questions that could be decided by the probate judge in the case, Brenda Penny, on Wednesday. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET.

At this point, Ms. Spears has not formally filed a request for termination of guardianship. In a twist this month, lawyers for Mr Spears, who had long argued that guardianship was voluntary and necessary, filed a case to end it, citing the singer’s stated wishes and recent displays of independence. But experts said it was unlikely to end a guardianship without a medical assessment – as requested by Ms Spears and now her father – and there is no public record to indicate the judge requested an assessment. psychiatric recently. (In 2016, according to confidential documents obtained by The New York Times, a court investigator said guardianship remained in Ms. Spears’ best interest despite her requests to end it, but called for a path to it. independence.)

Mr Rosengart called Mr Spears’ attempt to end the arrangement a “vindication” for Ms Spears, but suggested the singer’s father was trying “to avoid responsibility and justice, including sitting for a deposition under oath and responding to another discovery under oath ”on deposit to terminate it.

In a brief filed last week, Mr Rosengart said Ms Spears “fully agrees” to end the trusteeship and said Ms Spears’ personal curator since 2019, Jodi Montgomery, had also supported her, “under reserve for appropriate transition and protection of assets. But he called for ‘a short-term temporary curator to replace Mr Spears’ until the tutelage is completely and inevitably ended this fall.

“Although the whole guardianship is quickly terminated and officially terminated, it is clear that Mr. Spears cannot be allowed to occupy a post of control over his daughter for another day,” Mr. Rosengart wrote in his dossier last week. “Each day that Mr. Spears clings to his post is another day of anguish and hurt for his daughter.”

Ms Spears’ attorney decided to temporarily replace her father with John Zabel, a certified public accountant in California who worked in Hollywood.

Still, Mr Spears maintained in documents filed this week that while there is “no adequate basis” for his suspension or removal as estate registrar, the court should instead focus on termination. guardianship – something that “is not opposed by anyone” and should not take priority. (Lawyers for Mr Spears argue that in 13 years, “not a single medical professional nor the report of a single probate investigator recommended that Mr Spears’ presence as curator was detrimental to Mrs. Spears. “) In terminating the trusteeship, Mr. Spears’ attorneys wrote that” would render some of the other outstanding issues moot “and” provide an incentive for the resolution of all other matters. “

At the same time, Mr Spears’ attorneys also argued that Mr Zabel “does not appear to have the background and experience to immediately take over a complex $ 60 million estate”, pointing to Mr. Zabel in a real estate investment. . Mr. Rosengart replied Tuesday that Mr. Spears had “no financial experience”, a previous bankruptcy and was facing allegations of abuse.

Following Ms Spears’ comments in June – in which she said she was forced to take medication and was unable to remove a birth control device – her father asked the court to investigate on the allegations, denying her own guilt and instead questioning the actions of Ms. Montgomery, the singer’s current personal curator, and others.

Mr Rosengart has since requested a future hearing into the outstanding financial issues involving the trusteeship, calling her father’s mismanagement of Ms Spears’ estate “obvious and continuing”. He said Mr Spears received a discovery request and an affidavit in August, before filing a request to end guardianship.

So far, the judge has not addressed the potential investigations, and additional financial matters – including the disputed fees of various attorneys in the case and the Guardianship’s accounting covering 2019 – remain unresolved. In their case this week, attorneys for Mr. Spears said “all outstanding issues could be resolved” if the judge calls a mandatory private mediation settlement conference.

“The last thing this Court or Conservative needs or wants would be a protracted and costly litigation over pending or final accounts and fee claims,” ​​they wrote.

Since the last hearing in July, three documentaries about Spears’ guardianship have been released, in addition to related reporting on the case. “Controlling Britney Spears,” the New York Times’ second documentary on the subject, revealed that an intense surveillance device was monitoring the singer, including secretly capturing audio recordings from her bedroom and accessing material from her phone.

Recording conversations in a private location and reproducing text messages without the consent of both parties may be a violation of the law. It is not clear whether the court overseeing Ms Spears’ guardianship approved the surveillance or was aware of its existence. Ms Spears’ attorney called for an investigation, writing in a court file Tuesday that Mr Spears “crossed unfathomable lines”, further supporting the need to suspend him immediately.

A Netflix film, “Britney Vs. Spears,” reported that Ms Spears sought to end the guardianship from 2008 and 2009, raising concerns about her father’s suitability for the role, the money that ‘she won for others and threats involving custody of her children. Documents obtained by the filmmakers also showed Ms Spears’ access to the drugs she loved increased when she worked, including during a stint as a judge on “The X-Factor” in 2012.

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