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Britney Spears conservatorship ruling was blow to father, experts say

Lawyers not involved in the case said the pop singer's voice in the matter is beginning to be heard.
Image: Britney Spears at a premiere in Hollywood
Britney Spears at a premiere in Hollywood in Los Angeles on July 22, 2019.Valerie Macon / AFP via Getty Images file

A judge's decision to deny Britney Spears' father increased power over her affairs was a rare move that could indicate diminished faith in James "Jamie" Spears' fitness for the role, experts said Friday.

The Thursday ruling by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny denied James Spears' objections to sharing monetary control over the conservatorship with a financial institution, Bessemer Trust, appointed last year as co-conservator.

"It appears that the court lacks some confidence in the father," said lawyer David Esquibias, who represented actor Amanda Bynes in her 2014 conservatorship case. "There must be some level of conflict and some lack of confidence in the father’s financial decision-making."

Spears, 39, is the subject of the recent Hulu documentary, "Framing Britney Spears," which portrays her as a powerless subject of a secretive 2008 conservatorship following what has been described as a public mental breakdown.

James Spears took over as sole conservator in 2019 following the exit of attorney Andrew Wallet. Britney Spears and her friends and fans have all made it clear they mistrust her father, and the star has long wanted him removed from the role.

His lawyer, Vivian Thoreen, said in a statement Thursday that he would work with Bessemer "in the best interests of his daughter."

"My client Jamie Spears has diligently and professionally carried out his duties as one of Britney’s conservators," she said, "and his love for his daughter and dedication to protecting her is clearly apparent to the court."

The ruling was not a total victory for Britney Spears but signals "the court chipping away at the sole control that Jamie has enjoyed over Britney and her affairs for the past many, many years," said Scott Rahn, a Los Angeles conservatorship, trust and probate attorney, who was not involved in the Spears case.

Tamar Arminak, a conservatorship attorney who worked with Bynes’ parents, said, "The judge is starting to listen to Britney."

However, Arminak said, the arrangement indicates James Spears will continue to oversee his daughter for some time.

"I think what the court did was not indicative of removing Jamie at any point in time," Arminak said. "I think there's a reason in place why they’re keeping Jamie Spears as the conservator.

"It could be as simple as oversight and not overcharging or taking advantage of Britney or it could be long term. Based on that undisclosed information, there is a clear reason why she (Penny) still believes it is in Spears’ best interest to have Jamie as a conservator."