Britney Spears: End conservatorship, but remove my father first
By Joe Coscarelli
Britney Spears supports the prompt and complete termination this fall of the conservatorship that has overseen her finances and personal life since 2008, a lawyer for the singer said in a court filing earlier this week, but she wants her father removed from the legal arrangement first.
In a supplemental petition filed a week before the next scheduled hearing in the case, Mathew S. Rosengart, a lawyer for Spears, reiterated his previous calls for the immediate resignation or suspension of James Spears as the conservator of her estate, even as Britney Spears pursues the dissolution of the guardianship and an investigation into her father’s conduct while in charge.
“While the entire conservatorship is promptly wound down and formally terminated, it is clear that Mr. Spears cannot be permitted to hold a position of control over his daughter for another day,” wrote Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor who took over as Britney Spears’ representative in July. “Every day Mr. Spears clings to his post is another day of anguish and harm to his daughter.”
The filing follows a surprise turnaround by James Spears earlier this month, when he asked the Los Angeles probate court to “seriously consider whether this conservatorship is no longer required” after more than a decade of asserting that the unique arrangement was in his daughter’s best interest. Previously, in August, lawyers for James Spears said he planned to step down as conservator “when the time is right,” arguing that there were “no urgent circumstances justifying Mr. Spears’ immediate suspension.”
In June, in her first detailed public comments on the conservatorship, Britney Spears, 39, called it abusive and said she wanted to end the arrangement without having to undergo additional psychiatric evaluations.
But Rosengart said Wednesday that while Britney Spears “fully consents” to terminating the conservatorship, the singer “rejects her father’s recounting of history and maintains that the termination petition was motivated by Mr. Spears’ apparent self-interest” — namely, rehabilitating his reputation, avoiding suspension and impeding Britney Spears’ ability “to further investigate and examine his conduct since 2008.”
Rosengart called for “a temporary, short-term conservator to replace Mr. Spears until the conservatorship is completely and inevitably terminated this fall.”
Rosengart had previously requested that a certified public accountant in California, Jason Rubin, be named conservator of Britney Spears’ estate. But on Wednesday, the lawyer withdrew that nomination and suggested another individual, John Zabel, take over from James Spears on a temporary basis instead.
He said Britney Spears’ current personal conservator, Jodi Montgomery, backed both the eventual termination of the conservatorship — “subject to proper transition and asset protection” — and “the immediate and necessary suspension of Mr. Spears, by no later than Sept. 29,” the date of the next status hearing.
The lawyer also cited the singer’s recent engagement to be married, noting that James Spears’ current role as conservator of the estate “would impede the ability to negotiate and consummate” a prenuptial agreement.
Lawyers for James Spears did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Additionally, Rosengart called for a future hearing on outstanding accounting and financial issues regarding the conservatorship, arguing that mismanagement of Britney Spears’ estate by her father was “evident and ongoing.” The lawyer said that James Spears had been served a request for discovery and a sworn deposition in August, before he filed to end the conservatorship.
Rosengart cited James Spears’ potential “unwarranted commissions from his daughter’s work, totaling millions of dollars”; a salary larger than Britney Spears’, “including for apparently unused ‘office’ space”; his failure to negotiate or to obtain a contract with the singer’s previous business manager; and “potential self-dealing” in connection with the estate’s assets.