Just over a month after Britney Spears gave a bombshell statement expressing publicly for the first time that she wants her longstanding conservatorship come to an end, she’s formally asking the court to replace her father as conservator of her estate.
During more than 20 minutes of emotional testimony on June 23, and additional comments in a July 14 hearing, Spears made it quite clear she isn’t happy with her father’s involvement — going as far as accusing him of conservatorship abuse. After more than a decade of little change to the status quo, the pace of developments surrounding Spears’ conservatorship over the past several weeks seems breakneck, but even with a lawyer of her choosing finally in her corner, the pace from here on out is likely to be disappointing to those demanding #FreeBritney. The judicial system can move slowly even when it isn’t faced with a pandemic-related backlog.
Spears’ new attorneys, Mathew Rosengart and Eric V. Rowen, on Monday filed a petition to appoint Jason Rubin as the successor to the conservator of Spears’ estate, and the paperwork indicates Spears has picked him. Rubin is a licensed professional fiduciary and certified public accountant who, according to his website, has 10 years of experience and has managed complex portfolios with financial assets valued over $35 million. His background also includes financial elder abuse litigation and considerable forensic accounting experience.
“Ms. Spears respectfully submits that the Court should appoint her nominee; in that, it is an objectively intelligent preference to nominate a highly qualified, professional fiduciary in this circumstance,” states the petition, which is embedded below. “Moreover, Ms. Spears respectfully submits that, given the Court’s recognition at the July 14, 2021, hearing that Ms. Spears has sufficient capacity to choose her own legal counsel, she likewise has sufficient capacity to make this nomination.”
Rosengart is following up on his promise that he would “be filing as quickly as possible to get Mr. Spears removed.” Rosengart during the July 14 hearing suggested Jamie should voluntarily quit, but his lawyer Vivian Thoreen declined saying, “There is no basis for him stepping down.”
In a concurrently filed petition to suspend and remove Jamie, Rosengart describes the relationship between Britney and her father as “venomous.” A rep for Jamie Spears has not yet responded to a request for comment.
“There might well come a time when the Court will be called upon to consider whether the conservatorship should be terminated in its entirety and whether — in addition to stripping his daughter of her dignity, autonomy, and certain fundamental liberties — Mr. Spears is also guilty of misfeasance or malfeasance warranting the imposition of surcharges, damages, or other legal action against him,” writes Rosengart. “Nevertheless, although our investigation into these issues and others is active and ongoing, this Petition does not ask the Court to address such issues today. Instead, this Petition asks the Court to take the initial narrow step, within its broad discretion, of removing Mr. Spears as conservator on grounds that do not even require Mr. Spears to be at, or admit to, fault.”
Those grounds, he argues, are simply Spears’ best interests.
“Although new legislation might, in fact, be warranted as a result of the Kafkaesque nightmare with which Ms. Spears has been faced, the legislative intent behind the Probate Code is clear: to ‘protect the rights of persons who are placed under conservatorship,’” writes Rosengart, suggesting again that Jamie voluntarily step down or, at the very least, not oppose the petition to remove him. The petition also reiterates complaints about the costs that have been incurred under his watch, and says that Spears’ medical team agrees the father-daughter relationship has deteriorated to a point where his removal is in her best interest. Declarations from Spears’ mother, Lynne, and the conservator of Spears’ person, Jodi Montgomery, are attached in support of the petition and echo the concerns.
“In short, Ms. Spears has perceived and described the status quo as traumatizing, insane, and depressing,” writes Rosengart in the petition. “Regardless of whether Mr. Spears contests his daughter’s testimony and perception of the status quo, Ms. Spears’s testimony is genuine and makes clear that Mr. Spears’s continued presence as conservator it is not in her best interests. … Mr. Spears accommodating this Petition — either by not opposing or voluntarily resigning — would not violate any fiduciary duty, but rather would fulfill his fiduciary’s duty by doing what is plainly in the best interest of his daughter’s health and well-being in order to avoid further harm and injury to her mental health.”
A hearing is currently set for Sept. 29, and Spears indicated in the petition that she will attend. The court on Friday approved Bessemer Trust’s request to resign as co-conservator of the estate, which leaves Jamie solo in that role in the interim.
Meanwhile, also on Friday, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny signed an order temporarily extending Montgomery’s role as conservator of Spears’ person until Oct. 8. Montgomery, who has served in the position for about two years, indicated in a filing earlier this month that despite escalating threats to her safety, she won’t be “abandoning” Spears.
July 26, 6:20 p.m. Updated to reflect that the hearing has been moved up from Dec. 13 to Sept. 29.