Court extends Spears’ conservatorship of personal, financial affairs indefinitely
Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:34 pm
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears’ father will maintain indefinite control of her personal and financial affairs after a court commissioner on Tuesday extended the arrangement beyond 2008.
The conservatorship, which had been set to expire Dec. 31, also allows the people controlling Spears’ affairs — a group that includes father Jamie Spears and several attorneys — some say in her professional career.
It’s a move the singer apparently approves: A court-appointed attorney said the details had been explained to the 26-year-old and she agreed not to oppose it.
Spears could petition later to have the conservatorship removed, but the court’s order otherwise constitutes a lifetime arrangement, a court information officer said. Attorneys for Jamie Spears declined to comment after the hearing.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz said she was granting the permanent conservatorship in part because Britney Spears has shown she is “susceptible to undue influence.”
Based on the attorneys’ recommendations and other evaluations of the singer, Goetz said making conservatorship permanent was “necessary and appropriate.”
The move came after a lengthy closed-chambers meeting, and follows a recent medical evaluation of the singer. Jamie Spears has had control over his daughter’s affairs since February after she had several high-profile incidents of erratic behavior and a pair of hospitalizations.
It came on the same day that a Florida court case flared up in Los Angeles. Attorneys for one of Spears’ former managers suing the singer in Orlando wanted to force her to undergo a deposition.
That move was blocked after Jamie Spears and his attorneys sought a protective order against his daughter answering questions. Goetz approved the protective order through at least February.
Attorneys for the manager, Johnny Wright, argued in court filings that Spears seems well enough to record new music and is poised to embark on a publicity and concert tour for her new album, which will be released in December on her 27th birthday.
The filings argued that Spears should also be considered healthy enough to undergo sworn testimony, but Goetz disagreed.
That underscores at least one benefit of the conservatorship for Spears: a shield from some legal actions.
During Spears’ misdemeanor trial for driving without a license, Jamie Spears testified on his daughter’s behalf, but refused to allow her to take the witness stand. The singer was not required to testify, but her attorney asked Jamie Spears during the proceedings whether she could; the father said no.
Spears may also make a renewed effort to gain more visitation with her young sons. Her criminal defense attorney said Spears wanted to regain custody of her children, and on Tuesday the conservatorship’s attorneys agreed to maintain a retainer for the singer’s divorce attorney.
Until at least next year, Spears won’t have to give statements in the Orlando case. It is unclear exactly how much money is at stake in the Florida case, but the initial suit claims Wright was not paid commissions on four records and a share of a $7 million advance, among other fees.
Spears was close to losing that case earlier this year. She had failed to respond to the lawsuit after it was filed and Wright sought a default judgment.
Before a final judgment in his favor could be obtained, attorneys for the conservatorship stepped in.