Crime & Justice

Judge removes Britney Spears’ dad as her conservator

Los Angeles, Sep 29 (EFE).- The Superior Court of Los Angeles on Wednesday temporarily removed pop singer Britney Spears’ father – Jamie Spears, 69 – from his position as conservator of his daughter’s estate, a position he had held for 13 years.

The decision by Judge Brenda Penny is a victory for the singer, who last June for the first time spoke out against her father, saying she did not want him to exercise authority over her $60 million estate any longer, although the conservatorship will now be temporarily managed by the California state official, accountant John Zabel.

The judge granted a petition by Mathew S. Rosengart, Britney’s new attorney, thus suspending her father from the conservatorship.

“This man does not belong in her life, your honor, for another day,” said Rosengart, whom the singer hired as her lawyer in July.

Judge Penny agreed that removing the father from Britney’s estate was in the singer’s best interests, saying that “The current situation is not tenable.”

At a court hearing in June, Britney had said “I am traumatized,” and demanded that the people overseeing the conservatorship – enriching themselves in the process, she claimed – be investigated and jailed, and going on to call her father “the one who approved all of it.”

The singer’s conservatorship was set up in 2008, after her father sought control over Britney’s life and business, claiming that her mental health struggles and substance abuse made it impossible for her to handle her own affairs.

On Wednesday, the father’s attorney, Vivian Lee Thoreen, argued that the conservatorship should be immediately ended altogether, but Rosengart asked Judge Penny to delay a decision on that score to allow him to further probe the father’s conduct while acting as conservator.

The singer’s father has claimed that the conservatorship arrangement between him and his daughter was voluntary and necessary to safeguard her wellbeing – saying that the conservatorship had saved her live and gotten her imploding performing career back on track.

But Britney has claimed that her mental health is good and she can now handle her own business and personal affairs, and it seems that Judge Penny agreed with that stance.

The court hearing lasted almost three hours and was marked by dramatic shifts in the positions of both Mr. Spears’ and the singer’s attorneys.

Both Rosengart and accountant Zabel will now have access to all the pertinent documentation from the 13 years during which Mr. Spears managed his daughter’s estate and finances, and they will be able to investigate whether he or anyone else acted illegally, as the pop star claims.

The case took a surprising turn last weekend when The New York Times published a report including statements of three people who had worked for the singer during the conservatorship: a security employee, an aide and her wardrobe manager.

The former security employee said that the singer’s father ordered that microphones be placed in Britney’s home and that her phone calls and other messages be intercepted, including communications from her own lawyer and her children.

It is as yet unknown whether the California court knew of those practices, which – if they were undertaken behind the back of the court – might put the father in severe legal jeopardy.

EFE romu/ssa/laa/bp

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