Britney Spears has been permitted to choose a new attorney to represent her in her ongoing battle to end her conservatorship, marking the first time the pop star has had a say in her own legal representation since the arrangement was formed in 2008.
Spears’ court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham, had already formally requested to step down in a court filing, but the decision required approval from a California judge.
The ruling comes three weeks after the singer spoke out at length against the legal arrangement that controls her life during a hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny last month. Spears said she wished to dissolve the conservatorship ― which hands control of her personal finances and health care choices to others, as approved by the court system ― by alleging that she felt trapped, had been forced to perform when she did not want to, and was not allowed to make personal health care decisions.
“I deserve to have a life,” she said at the time.
On Wednesday, according to The New York Times, Penny accepted Ingham’s resignation and approved Spears’ choice of attorney: Hollywood lawyer Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor currently working with the top-tier law firm Greenberg Traurig who has represented other celebrities in the past. Rosengart was spotted at the courtroom hearing, where he was expected to begin the formal process of taking over as her legal counsel.
Outside, a large crowd of supporters gathered to champion Spears’ cause. Some held signs ― “The world is [watching]” and “Free Britney bitch” among them ― and others held microphones in front of a bright pink-and-white backdrop bearing the slogan “Free Britney.”
In Spears’ case, her father, James “Jamie” Spears, has served as co-conservator of her estate for the past 13 years. The singer declared at her last hearing that the conservatorship was “abusive” and that her father “loved the control, to hurt his own daughter, one hundred thousand percent.”
Spears detailed several shocking examples of personal freedoms that had been curtailed by the arrangement as, she argued, she went about the work of providing for the very people who told her what she could and could not do.
On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved with the case, filing a petition arguing for Spears’ right to choose her own attorney.
Lawyers for Jamie Spears did not object to allowing Rosengart to represent Britney Spears.
In the fallout from the singer’s remarks last month, Bessemer Trust, a wealth management firm that had been expected to join the conservatorship, asked the California judge to step away from the case, citing Spears’ opposition to the whole arrangement. Judge Penny accepted the resignation on Wednesday.
Spears’ longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, also resigned earlier this month; he said that the pop star had expressed her intention to retire.
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