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Wednesday July 28th, 2021 11:28PM

Britney Spears can hire own lawyer in conservatorship case

By The Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A new attorney has been appointed to represent Britney Spears in her conservatorship after a hearing in which the singer tearfully spoke about the case's impact on her life.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny on Wednesday approved Spears hiring former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart to represent her. The ruling was cheered by fans outside the courthouse.

Rosengart requested that Spears' father, Jamie, step down as her conservator, but that was rejected.

Spears spoke for the second hearing in a row, at one point calling the acts of the conservatorship that has governed her personal and financial affairs since early 2008 “cruelty.”

She asked that the case end immediately, but not if she has to go through more “stupid” evaluations.

Spears spoke rapidly while addressing the court, breaking down in tears toward the end of her remarks.

The hearing came three weeks after Spears dramatically addressed the court for the first time in open session, telling Penny she was being forced to take medication and use an intrauterine device for birth control, said she was not allowed to marry her boyfriend, and said she wanted to own her own money.

“I just want my life back,” Spears said on June 23.

Spears supporters amassed outside the Los Angeles courthouse where the hearing was held, as they have during recent hearings. Florida congressman Matt Gaetz made a brief appearance addressing the crowd.

“Well, now the whole world knows what Britney Spears wants, and it is the freedom and the liberty that should be offered to every single American. Free Britney!” he shouted.

In Washington, D.C., a group of Spears supporters demonstrated on the National Mall in support of the singer.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

___

Three weeks after Britney Spears ' dramatic comments in court condemning the conservatorship that has controlled her life for 13 years, a Los Angeles judge and others with legal power over the pop star will convene for a hearing Wednesday to deal with the aftermath.

Spears' remarks led to the resignation of her court-appointed lawyer, the withdrawal of an estate-management company that was supposed to oversee her finances, and a volley of accusations between her father and a professional conservator over who's to blame for the legal circumstances Spears said are “abusive” and need to end.

Spears is not expected to speak again at the afternoon hearing, in which all the parties are expected to take part remotely, but she may weigh in as she seeks to hire a lawyer of her choice.

At the June 23 hearing, her first public words in court on the matter, Spears said she was being forced to take medication and use an intrauterine device for birth control, said she was not allowed to marry her boyfriend, and said she wanted to own her own money.

“I just want my life back,” Spears said.

She was harshly critical of her father, who serves as conservator of her finances, and had more measured criticism for Jodi Montgomery, the court-appointed professional who serves as conservator of her person, overseeing her life choices.

James Spears said in a legal filing that the court needs to investigate the allegations and Montgomery's role, pointing out that his daughter’s personal life has been beyond his control since he resigned as conservator of her person in 2019, a role he played for 11 years. He opposed Montgomery's request for money to hire security because of recent death threats, saying he has been subjected to similar threats for years.

Montgomery denied that Britney Spears was prevented from marrying or forced to use birth control. She lashed back at James Spears, saying that Britney Spears has expressed no desire to oust her as she has with her father.

Montgomery said she is committed to staying on the job and is putting a care plan in place to help end the conservatorship, something she said James Spears has expressed no desire to do.

“Mr. Spears, as the Conservator of the Estate, and Ms. Montgomery, as the Conservator of the Person, should be working as a team to ensure that Ms. Spears’ best interest are being met, that she is on a path to recovery and termination of her conservatorship, and that she is living her best life possible," Montgomery said in a court filing. "Instead, Mr. Spears has decided it is time to start the finger-pointing and media attacks ... The mud-slinging by Mr. Spears and his new ‘It wasn’t me!’ strategy — after being her sole or co-conservator for more than 13 years — leaves Ms. Montgomery no other choice but to defend herself.”

Despite nearly two years on the job, Montgomery's status is still technically temporary. She appeared to be on track for permanent appointment before recent events.

Britney Spears will still be represented at Wednesday's hearing by her longtime court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, who filed documents last week saying he resigned, effective as soon as she got a new attorney, which at the June hearing she said she wanted.

The Bessemer Trust, a financial company that Spears had sought as a replacement for her father last year but was instead appointed to work alongside him, also withdrew from the conservatorship last week, saying it no longer wanted to take part in a legal arrangement that she didn't want.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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