- At a Wednesday hearing, Britney Spears’ and Jamie Spears’ lawyers clashed.
- Britney Spears’ lawyer argued that Jamie Spears didn’t deserve attorney fees covered by her conservatorship.
- Judge Brenda Penny ruled that funds would not have to be set aside, a financial win for Ms. Spears.
During a contentious hearing on Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny denied a request to create a reserve of funds from Britney Spears’ former conservatorship that would be used to pay attorney fees for Jamie Spears and Lynne Spears, and to her former attorney Samuel D. Ingham, III.
Britney Spears was in a 13-year conservatorship that granted a group of people, including her father, control over her personal, medical, and financial decisions.
On September 7, Jamie Spears filed a petition to end Britney Spears’ conservatorship, which the pop star’s legal team labeled as a “massive” legal victory. The conservatorship was officially terminated on November 12.
Though the conservatorship is over there are still financial details that are being worked out, including who would pay for the attorneys retained during the conservatorship.
Ahead of the Wednesday hearing, Spears’ attorney Mathew Rosengart filed a 250-page briefing objecting to Jamie’s demand for continued financial assistance from the estate. Due to the federal holiday, however, the documents were only made public Tuesday night and neither Judge Penny nor Jamie Spears’ attorneys were able to review the document.
Penny told the court that she wouldn’t rule on motions related to Rosengart’s document, noting that the fees were “matters that were languishing.”
Firms are requesting millions of dollars in attorney fees from Britney Spears’ estate, according to filings, and Holland & Knight, who formerly represented Jamie Spears, is requesting more than a million dollars alone.
During a tense exchange, however, Rosengart objected to approving Ingham or Spears’ attorneys’ fees and said he was opposed to discussing the payouts of attorney fees before discovery was finished and before Penny had the chance to review the allegations put forward in his latest filing.
Ultimately Penny ruled that a reserve of conservatorship funds would not be created expressly to pay attorney fees, but that the motions and possibility for Britney Spears’ estate to pay the fees would stay on the table for a later July hearing.
Penny also ruled that a termination plan submitted by former personal conservator Jodi Montgomery could be placed under seal to protect Britney Spears’ personal and medical information and approved fees for Montgomery and her lawyer with no objections from the court.
A petition for attorney fees from Lynne Spears will be separately heard on March 16.
Explosive allegations to be ruled on at a later time
During the hearing, and in the more than 250 pages of court documents filed by Rosengart, he alleged that Jamie Spears had “monitored, captured and reviewed Ms. Spears’ communications and therapy notes,” throughout the course of the conservatorship.
“Black Box Security, at the direction of Jamie Spears, placed a listening device in Britney Spears’ bedroom,” Rosengart told the court, referencing a story broken by The New York Times quoting a whistleblower from the company.
Rosengart also submitted the sworn declaration of former FBI agent Sherine Ebadi, a lead investigator in Robert Mueller’s case against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who corroborated the claims made by the Black Box whistleblower. Throughout the hearing, Rosengart maintained that his discovery process has been impaired by a slow, sloppy turnover of documents from Jamie Spears’ team.
Weingarten balked at the suggestion and Rosengart’s filing.
“Virtually everything alleged was a lie. They are all nonsense,” Weingarten told the court. Weingarten claimed that by the time Rosengart’s latest objection was received by his office, they had received 27 media inquiries about the document.
He alleged that Rosengart leaked documents, planted stories, with the purpose of then citing those stories in court documents.
“Lies!” Rosengart told the court while pointing at Weingarten, calling on Penny to admonish Weingarten for allegedly lying under oath. “I learned about these allegations when they came out. Let’s see what happens when Mr. Spears is deposed under oath.”
“The truth of all of this will come in another hearing,” Penny said, who asked the two to stop feuding about the objections filing.
Throughout the remainder of the hearing, Weingarten asked for Penny to unseal the entirety of Britney Spears’ conservatorship file to prove that Jamie Spears did no wrong during the timespan — a move that Rosengart strongly objected to on the grounds that it was a breach of privacy.
“A father who loves his daughter wouldn’t move to unseal her personal information,” Rosengart told the court.
Next steps in the ongoing tussle over the termination of the conservatorship
John Zabel, the temporary financial conservator whose powers expired today, was granted a seven-day extension to transfer funds from the conservatorship to Britney’s estate.
Penny set a July 27 hearing date, where she said she hoped parties would have concluded their discovery processes, and where any new evidence related to the fee petitions could be brought to light.