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What Everyone’s Fighting for at Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Hearing Today

Spears. Photo: Getty Images

Parties from all sides of Britney Spears’s conservatorship debacle will be appearing remotely today in a Los Angeles Superior Court room to address the fallout from her shocking testimony last month. On June 23, Spears rocked the world by raising in open court “serious allegations regarding forced labor, forced medical treatment and therapy, improper medical care, and limitations on personal rights,” and the repercussions from her testimony have been swift. Her court appointed- attorney, the financial institution retained to oversee her finances, and her manager have all resigned; her father, Jamie Spears, and Jodi Montgomery, the conservator over her person, have waged a public finger pointing war filing dueling court petitions; her mother, Lynne Spears, has fired up her own legal team to urge the judge to allow her daughter to finally be able to hire her own attorney. And Britney herself (who is not expected to speak at today’s hearing but will attend the call) has contacted a former federal prosecutor and tough litigator to take on her fight. Here is what is at stake at today’s hearing for every person involved.

Judge Brenda Penny

Role in conservatorship: In 2018, at the age of 72, Judge Brenda Penny was appointed to serve as a judge by former California governor Jerry Brown. Two years later, she was elected by the voters to continue in that role. Her current term ends in 2027. In 2016, when Penny took over Britney’s case from Judge Reva Goetz, she seemed poised to make changes. She ordered a complete review of Britney’s case.

Britney’s allegations against her: Britney came to court May 10, 2019 and spoke to Penny in a closed hearing about her case. Britney’s mother Lynne and her father Jamie were both present at that hearing. Britney left the hearing looking distraught and was photographed in the court’s parking lot walking to her car without shoes. It was at this hearing that Britney said in court recently that she told Penny about how she had been treated and of being taken to a private facility against her wishes. She told the court last month that she didn’t feel that Penny took any of her allegations seriously.

“I’m telling you again because I’m not lying,” Britney said directly to Judge Penny at the June 23 court hearing. “I want to feel heard. I’m telling you again so maybe you can understand the depth and the degree and the damage of what they did to me back then. I want changes and I want changes going forward. I deserve changes.”

What to expect: Penny will make the ultimate decision at Wednesday’s hearing that could lead to a clear shake up in Britney’s conservatorship.

Jodi Montgomery, co-conservator

Role in conservatorship: Montgomery is a California-licensed professional fiduciary who stepped in to serve as the conservator over Britney’s person on September 9, 2019. Montgomery’s appointment came after Britney’s father Jamie Spears, citing health concerns, temporarily agreed to step down. (Note: Jodi’s appointment and Jamie’s announcement came days after there was a report of an alleged altercation between Jamie and Britney’s oldest son, then-13-year-old Sean Preston, during a visitation). Jodi’s court-appointment orders as Britney’s temporary conservator are set to expire on September 3.

Britney’s allegations against her: Britney told the court that she was becoming concerned about Montgomery’s behavior. As one example, she cited the fact that Montgomery insists that she see her therapists even when she is sick. “I’m talking to you today because I feel even Jodi is starting to take it too far with me,” Britney said. “She [Jodi] made me feel like my dad does, very similar behavior, but just a different dynamic.”

However, Montgomery maintains that Britney still wants her to serve as her conservator.

Fees: On July 9, Jodi asked the court for Britney’s estate to pay her $221,090.50 for the services from November 1, 2019 to February 28, 2021 plus an additional $65,465.00 for her legal fees.

Her purpose of this hearing: According to Montgomery, Britney has been asking her to help her find an attorney. Britney sent her text messages stating “I need u to stay as my co conservator of person. I’m asking u for ur assistance in getting a new attorney” and “it’s not cool though ur not giving me names Jody..I don’t have representation though.” Montgomery responded to Britney that “in order for me to stay and help support you, I must be sure to stay in my lane.” Instead of helping Britney herself to find an attorney, Montgomery has asked the court to intervene and appoint an intermediary, a guardian ad litem, to coordinate.

Montgomery also filed court documents on July 11 opposing Jamie Spears’s request for a “court-ordered investigation and evidentiary hearing” into Britney’s allegations regarding her treatment during the conservatorship. Montgomery said that “the court should not take the bait.” She said Jamie’s request was a “thinly veiled attempt to clear his name” and that Jamie has spent “million dollars in fees recently incurred by his crisis-PR specialists in only a four-month period.” She said in her court papers that his recent demand for an investigation is merely “a continuation of that public relations campaign.” She is asking the court to deny his request.

Montgomery told the court that she has already been preparing a comprehensive “Care Plan with Ms. Spears’s medical team that will address all the issues raised by Ms. Spears” and that will “offer Ms. Spears a path to ending her Conservatorship of the Person, as she so unequivocally desires.”

In addition, Montgomery is asking the court to authorize Britney’s estate to pay for 24/7 security for her. She said since Britney spoke out that she had been receiving death threats.

Jamie Spears, Britney’s father and co-conservator

Role in conservatorship: Jamie has served as Britney’s co-conservator of Britney’s estate since the conservatorship’s inception in 2008. He also continuously served as Conservator of Britney’s Person, except for a period from 2012-2013, when he served as Co-Conservator of her Person with Jason Trawick, Britney’s then-fiancé. In 2019, he stepped down from serving as conservator over Britney’s person citing health reasons. That same year, Jamie filed documents with the court that he intended to register Britney’s conservatorships in three states she liked to visit: Florida, Louisiana, and Hawaii.

Jamie has received approximately $16,000/month for his role since 2013, plus an additional $2,000 for rented office space. When Britney did her shows in Las Vegas, he received a commission. He said in court papers that the services he provided his daughter for her 2011 Femme Fatale Tour and for her Pieces of Me Las Vegas show at Planet Hollywood were “over and above” the services he performs as her conservator of her person and as her co-conservator of the estate.

His purpose of this hearing: Jamie is asking the court to “to investigate the veracity of the allegations and claims made by Ms. Spears at the June 23, 2021 status hearing.” He said in court papers that over the past 13 years he “has worked tirelessly to manage and protect Ms. Spears and her Estate, and by extension, to protect his daughter’s well-being.”

Jamie wants the court to order a full-blown investigation into Britney’s “serious allegations” to see if there is any truth to them. His legal team said in court papers that “ it is important for the integrity of the conservatorships and in the best interest of Ms. Spears for the court to order an investigation into the issues and claims” raised by Britney. If her claims are true that “corrective action must be taken” and if not then the conservatorship “can continue its courts, ” states the documents.

Jamie is also asking the court to oppose Jodi Montgomery’s request for Britney’s estate to pay for her 24/7 additional security. “Mr. Spears, himself, has been the subject of innumerable and ongoing threats as well – not just recently, but for years. “ He says that Jodi’s request for 24/7 security would cost his daughter’s estate more than $50K a month and he does not “believe such an expense is reasonable, necessary, or a proper expense of the Conservatorship Estate.” He said Jodi is not alone and that he and Samuel Ingham have also received threatening messages and that to pay for everyone’s security is “not an expense that the conservatorship estate can sustain.” Even Britney’s younger sister, Jamie Lynn, has received threats, Jamie pointed out in his court papers, saying “Jamie Lynn Spears recently pleaded, “[C]an we please stop with the death threats, especially the death threats to children.” He said that Jodi should pay for any security services herself “as a cost of doing business.”

Judge Penny will rule on Jamie’s requests.

Lynne Spears, Britney’s mother

Role in the conservatorship: Lynne, along with Jamie, was instrumental in initially helping her daughter when she was spiraling in 2008 and provided testimony to the court that that was used to establish the conservatorship. She has, over the years, accompanied Britney to court for hearings, but it hasn’t been until recently that she has been vocal about Britney’s situation.

Her purpose of this hearing: Lynne’s legal team filed on July 6 asking the judge to immediately grant Britney the authority to hire her own attorney. Lynne’s legal team stated that her mother “commends [Britney] for her courageous impassioned plea to be heard and Lynne wants to respect her daughter’s wishes to hire her own attorney.”

“Appointment of independent counsel is mandatory at this juncture,” Lynne’s court papers state. Lynne’s legal team said the fact that Britney didn’t even know that she could petition the court to end her conservatorship is more than enough evidence that she immediately needs a private attorney to “advise her as to her basic rights in this conservatorship.”

Lynne’s legal team also points out that a lot has changed in the 13 years that Britney has been in this conservatorship. She notes in court papers that when the petition to create this conservatorship was originally filed that Britney’s given address was the UCLA Medical Center; she says Britney can now not only care for herself but has earned “literally hundreds of millions of dollars as an international celebrity,” according to Lynne’s petition.

“To earn this money, [Britney]  has had to perform in front of millions of people, has had to manage hundreds of performances, has had to use her artistic and creative talents to prepare for shows by choreographing each and every move for and interacting with many co-performers, and has had to rehearse and perform for many thousands of hours over the years,” according to Lynne’s filing with the court. “Her capacity is certainly different today than it was in 2008, and [Britney] should no longer be held to the 2008 standard, whereby she was found to ‘not have the capacity to retain counsel.”

Samuel D. Ingham III, Britney’s court-appointed lawyer

Role in conservatorship: Ingham has served as Britney’s court-appointed attorney since the conservatorship’s inception in 2008. Last summer, Ingham started aggressively lobbying the court on Britney’s behalf. He told the court that Britney’s needs for a conservatorship have changed and that Britney was strongly opposed to her father returning as her conservator. He also opposed any efforts to seal the proceedings. He filed court documents that said that Britney wanted her father removed from serving as the co-conservator over her estate and finances.

Ingham works as a solo practitioner out of Ojai, California, and obtained his bar license to practice law in California in 1975. His LinkedIn profile states that he is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law and devotes his practice to court proceedings involving conservatorships and trusts that involves “the application of complex laws to challenging family situations.” He also adds that he serves on the Appointed Counsel Panel for the Los Angeles Superior Court, which is how he was appointed to Britney’s case, and touts that the “court has appointed me to act as attorney, guardian ad litem, referee and master in cases as large as $500 million.”

Britney’s allegations against him: When Britney spoke to the court last month she said “I didn’t know that I could petition the conservatorship to end it.” She also mentioned having to do her own legal research and that Ingham discouraged her from coming forward with her allegations, telling her “I should keep it to myself.”

“My attorney said I can’t let the public know anything they did to me and by not saying anything is saying it was okay what they did to me,” Britney said. “It’s not okay.”

She also told the court she had been prevented from having children because her “so-called team won’t let me go to a doctor to take [out her IUD]. These statements put a spotlight on Ingham’s advocacy for his client.

Fees: In the first year of Britney’s conservatorship, Ingham billed Britney $407,927 for his services, according to court records. (Though it’s been estimated at closer to $520,000.) If his fees through the conservatorship were consistent, Ingham has billed Britney an estimated $5.3 million for the 13 year period.

His purpose of this hearing: Two weeks after Britney’s testimony, Ingham submitted his resignation letter and has asked Penny to appoint another attorney in his place. Penny will decide at this hearing whether to grant Ingham’s resignation.

Mathew Rosengart, Britney’s potential new lawyer

Role in the conservatorship: Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, has been in talks to represent Britney, who appears to need a strong litigator in her corner. Rosengart fits the bill: He served as a Justice Department trial attorney, where according to his bio he “investigated and prosecuted cases of national and international significance ranging from violent crimes to public corruption.” He’s also experienced with representing A-list clients such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Sean Penn, and Steven Spielberg, among others. He is known for being a zealous advocate.

His purpose of this hearing: Rosengart will be heading to court today to argue to the judge that Britney has selected him as her attorney and wants him to represent her in her fight against the constraints of the conservatorship.

Bessemer Trust, co-conservator

Role in the conservatorship: Financial institution currently serving as Britney’s co-conservator of her estate tasked with handling all her assets and finances. Bessemer was brought in after Andrew Wallet, who had served as co-conservator of Britney’s estate along with Jamie from 2008, abruptly resigned on March 5, 2019. Wallet’s resignation came right after Britney’s team announced the cancellation of her Las Vegas Domination Tour and around the time when Britney said that she had been forced into a private facility and monitored 24/7. Seven months after Wallet abruptly resigned, the court appointed Bessemer Trust to serve as co-conservator of the estate. However, that order appointing Bessemer was not entered until June 30, 2021 and the very next day Bessemer filed its request to resign from the case.

Their purpose of this hearing: Attorneys for Bessemer filed the “exigent” request on July 1 in Los Angeles Superior court asking the court to allow them to resign “due to changed circumstances” effective immediately. After hearing Britney’s explosive testimony on Jun 23 about wanting to end the conservatorship entirely and alleging other abuses, Bessemer immediately wanted out. Jeff Glowacki, a managing director at Bessemer Trust, said that when they originally agreed to come on board they were told that the conservatorship was “voluntary” and that Britney consented to the bank’s appointment. Glowacki said that after hearing Britney’s testimony he learned that she not only objects to the continuance of the conservatorship but also desires for it to end, according to his declaration filed with the court.

Glowacki personally signed Bessemer’s resignation letter on July 1. Bessemer said they “heard [Britney] and respects her wishes” and that due to these “changed circumstances [Bessemer] is tending its resignation.” They also told the judge that due to the fact that they had just been formally appointed and had taken no action as her conservator and took no fees or received any of her assets that they wanted to immediately resign.

Judge Penny will decide at this hearing whether to grant Bessemer’s request.

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