Britney Spears‘ father is out, but scrutiny of him just beginning.
Spears’ also received help in a conservatorship battle from longtime agent Cade Hudson.
Britney Spears and her attorney successfully drove her father from the conservatorship that has run the singer’s life and controlled her money, but they say they are not done scrutinizing him and the actions he took over the past 13 years.
After a Los Angeles Superior Court judge suspended James Spears as conservator, attorney Mathew Rosengart said his legal team would perform a “top-to-bottom” examination of his behavior now that they have access to years of books and records. Some allegations, he added, could bring a “hard look” from law enforcement.
“Jamie Spears and others are going to face even more serious ramifications for his misconduct,” Rosengart said Wednesday outside court.
“There are safeguards in place,” said Sarah Wentz, a probate attorney who works on many conservatorship cases. “I think the failings, in this case, show us where they can be manipulated. I am disappointed in our system.”
Judge Brenda Penny was legally allowed to suspend the elder Spears at her discretion and held no fact-finding hearing before ousting him, citing only the “toxic environment” that he created around his daughter.
His suspension could now allow evidence to be gathered, however.
“They needed to have him out of the way,” Wentz said. “He has too direct a conflict.”
Rosengart argued in court that James Spears had “reaped millions of dollars” from the conservatorship, and said in court filings that in recent years he has been spending her money excessively on attorneys and strategists whose central goal was to bolster his reputation and maintain the conservatorship at all costs.
Rosengart also said James Spears had crossed “unfathomable” lines by engaging in illegal surveillance of his daughter, including communications with her children, her boyfriend and her lawyer, as reported in “Controlling Britney Spears,” a recent documentary from The New York Times and the FX network.
James Spears’ lawyer, Vivian Thoreen, dismissed those allegations in court as “rhetoric from a TV show” that could be dispensed with quickly on closer investigation.
His attorneys said that means his daughter’s complaints about her health care and controls on her relationships are not her father’s responsibility at all but that of Jodi Montgomery, a court-appointed professional who serves as conservator of her person. Britney Spears aired those complaints in a pair of passionate speeches to the court over the summer.
There were no apparent changes made.
“The fact that the court did nothing about that is appalling,” Wentz said. “I have been asked by people about reform in the conservatorship system, and I say, ‘How about just following the rules?’ They asked the court to end things, and it seemed like nobody wanted this to end. Why?”
She suggested that states could implement a mandatory reporting requirement for conservatorships that trigger bigger investigations of the sort that happen when a teacher or therapist hears of possible child abuse.