Sam Lutfi may be trying to make a federal case out of Britney Spears' travails, but it doesn't appear he's been successful just yet.
A Los Angeles Superior Court spokesperson told E! News Friday that all of the orders pertaining to Jamie Spears' conservatorship over his daughter's affairs are still being handled in the local court, contrary to reports that the case has been transferred to federal jurisdiction.
And, contrary to the efforts of Britney's dearest-if-not-so-nearest to take it there.
Sources close to the situation confirm that Lutfi, who after two weeks has yet to be served with the restraining order Britney's family obtained against him Feb. 1, is behind the filing this week of a strongly worded petition seeking to move the troubled singer's custody and conservatorship cases from L.A. court to federal court.
"Sam is at war with Jamie. This is his first strike," a Spears insider said Friday, explaining that Lutfi feels Britney's rights were violated because court-appointed attorneys did not investigate the claims her family was making about her condition.
Lutfi's new publicist, Michael Sands, who insists that the case has been transferred, filed the petition this week on behalf of New York attorney Jon Eardley, who is listed in the paperwork as Britney's counsel.
"Ms. Spears has been denied the right to associate freely with friends. She has been denied the right to make or receive telephone calls. She has been denied the right to operate a motor vehicle…She has been denied the right to receive and send mail," the petition states.
"Additionally she has been denied the right to her finances. She is not allowed to access her money or credit cards."
"Britney has expressed that she doesn't want to be under the lock and control of her family," Sands said Friday. "She wants nothing to do with her father."
And the case now "resides" in federal court, due to a technicality, he added.
"Because the court's order appointing her father conservator until Mar. 10 wasn't signed until after the notice of removal was filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court...the order extending the conservatorship...is void and invalid," Sands rationalized.
But although Sands suggests that it's time for Jamie to back off, the Superior Court spokesperson maintained that they have received no request to turn over any materials related to the Spears' case to U.S. District Court.
Meanwhile, E!'s source says Britney spoke to Eardley before the petition was filed and is planning a new attack on her dad's conservator status.
Eardley is planning to present evidence showing Jamie is not qualified to oversee her affairs, even with the help of a coconservator, and will point to examples in his personal and professional history to prove he isn't capable of making decisions for his daughter, the source said.
"She has basically conveyed that she doesn't want to be in her family's control," Sands said.
Legal experts say, however, that because Britney was previously found unfit to hire her own counsel, it's unlikely that Eardley will be allowed to represent her, thereby making the petition to transfer the case invalid.
Eardley could not be reached directly for comment but, via Sands, he said, "I will try this case in court, not in the media."
On Thursday, L.A. Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz extended Jamie Spears' conservator status until at least Mar. 10, when the next hearing is scheduled, and named Britney's brother, Bryan Spears, and his attorney cotrustees of her SBJ Trust, which is used to pay for daily expenses and medical bills.
Britney's increased efforts to push her dad out of the picture come just as she seemed to be settling into a warmer relationship with mom Lynne, whom she hadn't seen for months before her blow-up with Lutfi last month that resulted in a mass migration of paparazzi, cops and, eventually, Britney's parents to her Beverly Hills home.
But the quality time will be on hold for awhile as Lynne heads back to their hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana, where 16-year-old daughter Jamie Lynn could probably use some guidance, as well.
"Lynne feels like Britney is in a much better place and on the right track," a family insider says. "She had to get home and take care of Jamie Lynn and other personal matters. She will be back soon."
(Originally published Feb. 15, 2008 at 4:15 p.m. PT)