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Britney Spears' attorney to resign from conservatorship case

Samuel D. Ingham III asked the court for permission to resign two weeks after Spears testified that she wanted to find her own attorney.

Britney Spears' attorney filed a motion to resign as her counsel Tuesday, almost two weeks after Spears testified that she wanted to choose her own attorney in her conservatorship.

Samuel D. Ingham III, who was appointed to Spears' case in 2008, said in documents filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court that he will resign as soon as a new counsel is selected. In her testimony June 23, Spears told Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny that she wanted the right to pick her own attorney.

Spears said Ingham advised her against speaking out about her feelings regarding the 13-year conservatorship, which she described as abusive and isolating. She also testified that she was unaware that she was allowed to petition the court to end the conservatorship.

"I know I've grown with a personal relationship with Sam, my lawyer. I've been talking to him, like, three times a week now," Spears said June 23. "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."

Ingham's is the third resignation from Spears' team in the last week. Her longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, sent a letter to Spears' co-conservators James "Jamie" Spears, her father, and Jodi Montgomery announcing his departure from her team.

The letter, first reported Monday by Deadline and later confirmed by NBC News, said Rudolph last communicated with Spears over 2½ years ago, when she told him she planned to take an indefinite work hiatus.

"I believe it is in Britney's best interest for me to resign from her team as my professional services are no longer needed," Rudolph's letter said.

IMAGE: Britney Spears in New York in 2016
Britney Spears arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in August 2016.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters file

Bessemer Trust, the financial and wealth management group appointed as co-conservator in Spears' case, also filed a petition asking to resign. The motion, filed Thursday, cited Spears' testimony that she wanted to have control over her life again.

Bessemer said it entered into the conservatorship because it "relied on the representations of the parties that the ongoing Conservatorship was voluntary." But Bessemer is now aware that Spears "objects to the continuance of her Conservatorship and desires to terminate the Conservatorship," and the company respects her wishes, the filing said.

Spears began the process to remove her father from her conservatorship last year, when Ingham said she was afraid of her father and would refuse to perform if he was in control of her guardianship. The court denied Spears' request but assigned Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator.

Montgomery was appointed as Spears' temporary conservator-of-the-person in September 2019.

Jamie Spears has repeatedly denied any allegations of abuse. He also filed a request to the court last week asking for an investigation into his daughter's allegations of mistreatment, saying Montgomery was the sole conservator who oversaw the decisions related to her personal life and medical treatment since Montgomery was appointed.

In a statement, Montgomery's attorney said Montgomery "has been a tireless advocate for Britney and for her well-being," adding that if Spears wants to bring up any issue in court, Montgomery "is and has always been ready, willing, and able to do so."

Montgomery's attorney, Lauriann Wright, also said in a statement Tuesday that Montgomery has no plans to step down as conservator-of-the-person.

"She remains committed to steadfastly supporting Ms. Spears in every way she can within the scope of her duties as a conservator of the person," Wright said. "Ms. Spears as recently as yesterday has asked Ms. Montgomery to continue to serve. Ms. Montgomery will continue to serve as a conservator for as long as Ms. Spears and the Court desire her to do so."

Fans have raised questions about Spears' conservatorship, culminating in the #FreeBritney movement that picked up national attention in 2019. Fans have worried that what was meant to be a temporary guardianship arrangement for Spears after her breakdown in 2007 has been prolonged for the profit of others, such as her father.

In Spears' conservatorship, which some states call a guardianship, she pays the salaries of her conservators and all of the attorneys involved.

Two documentaries were released this year examining Spears' life and the circumstances of her case — The New York Times' "Framing Britney Spears" and the BBC's "The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship." Both projects scrutinize her rise to fame, the media attention surrounding her personal life and her conservatorship battle, but without Spears' participation.

She had made few public comments about her views on her conservatorship until her testimony June 23, when she said she wanted to end the arrangement without further evaluations.

"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," she said. "I don't feel like I can live a full life I don't own."