UPDATE: JULY 14 — After hearing tearful testimony from Britney Spears via telephone, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny ruled today that the pop star can hire the attorney of her choice. That lawyer is Mathew Rosengart of Hollywood power firm Greenberg Traurig.
“I want to get my dad removed, ma’am,” Spears told Penny, according to a dispatch from The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m angry and I will go there.”
Rosengart—a powerhouse litigator and former federal prosecutor—indicated that he and his team will be rigorous in their efforts to get Spears out of a 13-year conservatorship that’s resulted in the star’s father, Jamie Spears, wielding control over her life and finances.
“We will be filing as quickly as possible to get Mr. Spears removed from the conservatorship,” Rosengart said. “If he loves his daughter it is time to step aside and move on so she can have her life back.”
Rosengart also indicated that they’ll look into the arrangement’s origins, saying, “We have questions if this was even the proper forum back in 2008.”
A day prior to Wednesday’s hearing, the ACLU filed an amicus brief arguing in favor of Britney being able to select her own legal counsel. Zoë Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, said in a statement, “Britney Spears has said that she wants to pick her own lawyer and the court should respect that wish.”
JULY 13, 2021 — The American Civil Liberties Union is officially Team #FreeBritney. The ACLU and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California announced Tuesday that the organizations filed an amicus brief with the Superior Court of Los Angeles County to support Spears’s right to choose her own lawyer as she fights to end her 13-year conservatorship.
The ACLU said in a statement that the amicus brief “argues that the right to choose one’s own attorney is a core element of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and people under a conservatorship should be able to retain this right.”
The brief—which was also signed by 25 disability and civil rights groups, including Disability Rights California, the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making, and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network—further urges the court “to ensure Spears has access to assistance and tools, including supported decision-making, to make this choice.”
In announcing its decision, the ACLU pointed to the pop star’s June 23 hearing, during which Spears called the conservatorship “abusive” and described being forced to tour, put on medications against her will, and stripped of agency to the point that she has been unable to get married or have more children.
“Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing,” a defiant Spears told the court, “my dad was all for it.”
Spears’s attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, resigned after Britney’s bombshell testimony, but Spears has complained on more than one occasion that her father, Jamie Spears, controls most aspects of her life and affairs.
Zoë Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney for the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, said in a statement, “Britney Spears has said that she wants to pick her own lawyer and the court should respect that wish. The court should ensure Spears has access to the tools she needs to make that choice meaningfully and to hire someone she trusts to advocate for her stated goal: to get out of her conservatorship. Spears’s right to select an attorney is not only a basic tenet of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, but also consistent with principles of personal autonomy and agency. The California Superior Court must recognize Spears’s autonomy and the rights of people with disabilities to live independent, self-directed lives as active members of their communities.”
The group also offered to assist Spears in selecting a new attorney.
“Britney’s superstardom and wealth make this an atypical case, but she has described serious infringements on her civil liberties and dignity that are all too typical for people living under conservatorships and guardianships,” Amanda Goad, Audrey Irmas director of the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU SoCal, said. “It’s not just about Britney. We hope that offering supported decision-making to Britney Spears can serve as a model in other cases, because all people living with disabilities or under conservatorship deserve an opportunity to make their own informed choices.”
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