Is Britney Spears finally getting what she wants?
When Spears testified in June, the pop star told Judge Brenda Penny she wanted “the right to choose” her own lawyer. Two weeks later, Samuel D. Ingham III filed a motion to resign. Ingham has been Britney’s appointed counsel since 2008. According to NBC News, he told the Los Angeles County Superior Court he plans to resign as soon as new counsel is selected. So, if nothing else, her impassioned plea didn’t fall on totally deaf ears.
Yes, she is still stuck for the time being. And yes, Judge Penny denied the motion to have her father removed. But, Ingham’s departure may lead to more freedom of choice than Spears has been granted in 13 years.
Chances are, had Spears understood her rights, she would’ve testified and changed counsel sooner. On June 23, Spears claimed Ingham advised her not to testify for years and was never made aware of her right to petition to end the conservatorship. Spears insinuated perhaps this crucial detail was intentionally left out by her “so-called team” and father, Jamie Spears.
Still, she seems to have no hard feelings towards Ingham, all things considered. Britney told Judge Penny, “I know I’ve grown with a personal relationship with Sam, my lawyer,” adding, “We’ve kind of built a relationship, but I haven’t really had the opportunity — by my own self — to actually handpick my own lawyer by myself. And I would like to be able to do that.” Fair enough.
On Tuesday, Ingham asked for the court’s permission to step down. Whether or not they’ll let Britney choose her own lawyer remains undetermined. So keep those fingers crossed, Britney fans.
Britney’s Longtime Manager Has Also Resigned
Larry Rudolph is one of three people from Britney’s team to announce their resignation in the past two weeks. But in many ways, he was already gone. In his letter to Britney’s co-conservators, Rudolph revealed he hadn’t spoken to Spears in over two and a half years after she told him she was taking “an indefinite work hiatus,” per NBC News.
Rudolph has been with Britney since the beginning of her iconic career, first from 1997-2004, then again in 2006-2007, and finally, he rejoined her team from 2008-2021. Their professional relationship has included highly publicized ups and downs, but he’s appeared to remain in Britney’s corner for much of it.
So far, those resigning claim they’re doing so for Britney’s sake. In Rudolph’s revealing request, he wrote, “I believe it is in Britney’s best interest for me to resign from her team as my professional services are no longer needed.”
Of course, the ongoing media frenzy and new abuse allegations likely also played a role in the timing of his decision. If Rudolph and Spears haven’t spoken for almost three years, it’s safe to assume his “services” haven’t been “needed” for quite some time and he could’ve resigned already. All motives aside, this sounds like good news for Britney.
Her Financial Co-Conservator Has Stepped Down
Last week, Bessemer Trust also filed a petition to resign. Per NBC News, the motion cited Spears’ public request to end her conservatorship as their reason for quitting. According to the financial and wealth management company, their professional involvement “relied on the representations of the parties that the ongoing Conservatorship was voluntary.” So now, they’re following protocol and respecting their client’s wishes.
When Spears’ father was sole conservator, she requested (through Ingham) to remove him and appoint only professional conservators. Instead, Judge Penny appointed Bessemer Trust to work with her father, and Jodi Montgomery was hired as Spears’ “temporary conservator of the person.” According to Montgomery’s attorney, she has always been “ready and willing” to bring up anything her famous client wishes to address in court.
“Ready and willing” or not, another court hearing to end Britney Spears’ conservatorship seems inevitable. With Bessemer Trust resigning, Britney’s father is once again too close to full control for Britney’s comfort. In her heartbreaking testimony, Spears claimed he’s “100,000 percent loved” controlling her estate, career, and life for the past 13 years. The 39-year-old singer said she believes he’ll never relinquish his court-appointed power unless he’s legally ordered to do so.
Her Father Asked The Court to Investigate Abuse Claims
Last year, Spears quietly began trying to remove her father from the conservatorship. Ingham told the court she was “afraid” of him. Last month, she told Judge Penny she felt “unheard” and was “telling the truth for the first time.” It’s now been revealed Jamie Spears has fully negated her latest testimony and asked the court to investigate her allegations.
Spears’ father adamantly denies any accusations of wrongdoing, consistently claiming he’s only had his daughter’s “best interests” at heart. After Spears vocalized her desire to end her “abusive” conservatorship, Jamie Spears asked the court to look closely at his daughter’s claims of mistreatment. Those in the #FreeBritney movement have argued for years that continuing the conservatorship at all, no matter what it entails, is mistreatment on its own.
When Britney suffered a very public breakdown in 2007, the conservatorship was presented as a temporary form for guardianship. The pop star claims she was made to believe she had no choice and unwittingly signed her life away. For over a decade, the restrictive legal arrangement seems to have been “prolonged” for the financial gain of her team and to the detriment of Ms. Spears.
For most of her conservatorship, the millionaire pop star has continued to perform and still pays her team (including all conservators and attorneys) to this day. Spears claims she wasn’t “allowed” to take breaks, spend her money, or do anything that might derail her profitable career, including getting married or having children. Most disturbingly, she claimed her father was the main person signing off on all decisions. Now he’s saying that’s not the case.
Her Father Files For Conservatorship to “Run Its Course”
According to the New York Times, Jamie Spears’ filing stated that Britney’s allegations were far from the truth. Not only had he “never” controlled her career or choices, but his lawyer alleged he hadn’t exerted any conservatorship control for the past two years of her thirteen-year-long conservatorship. The document also made it clear what he hoped to gain.
Reportedly, Jamie Spears wants the court to do everything in its power to clear his name by probing Britney’s claims. Unsurprisingly, it also sounds like he might want the show he’s “no longer involved with” to go on. The official document states:
“Either the allegations will be shown to be true, in which case corrective action will be taken, or they will be shown to be false, in which case the conservatorship can continue its course. It is not acceptable for the Conservators or the Court to do nothing.”
Or he could resign, too. Just a suggestion.
So What Happens Next?
For now, Britney’s conservatorship continues, but her recent testimony has been making a profound impact on the public. In her June statement, Britney said, “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive and that we can sit here all day and say, oh, conservatorships are here to help people. But ma’am, there’s a thousand conservatorships that are abusive, as well.” Following her statement, activists and those who’ve dealt with conservatorships firsthand said she’s absolutely right about that part.
In turn, Britney’s pending freedom may ultimately help others. The longer her conservatorship case lasts, the more Britney Spears evolves from an “overprotected” pop star to a magnified voice that many without a platform desperately need. As for whether or not the court will permit Spears to choose her new lawyer sooner rather than later (or at all), stay tuned.
As previously reported, Britney told Judge Penny she just wants to “move forward.” One week later, Penny denied Ingham’s “month old” request for her father’s removal but permitted Spears to file “future petitions” to end her conservatorship. Many are waiting with bated breath to see when the pop star will make that next big move. My guess is that it will happen when she’s found the right lawyer.
Until that day, these resignations hopefully signify Britney Spears is a few steps closer to regaining control of her life. If nothing else, all three departures imply she doesn’t need permission to make her own decisions. Not theirs, at least.