Britney Spears has secured a small victory in court as she fights for her freedom.
A judge granted the 39-year-old Grammy winner permission to choose her own lawyer during a court hearing on Wednesday, July 14, where E! News was present.
She has been represented by a court-appointed attorney, Sam Ingham, since her conservatorship began 13 years ago. However, Sam asked to resign on July 6. In the court filing obtained by E! News, he stated that he wanted to resign "effective upon the appointment of new court-appointed counsel."
At the hearing, Britney asked Judge Brenda Penny for permission to hire former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart as her private attorney. The judge approved her request and confirmed Sam's resignation. According to The New York Times, Mathew has become a high-profile lawyer for several Hollywood stars, including Sean Penn and Steven Spielberg.
Britney told the judge during her June 23 testimony that she has been developing a rapport with Sam, but wanted to choose her own representation as she tries to end the conservatorship. "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," she said.
On July 6, her mother Lynne Spears filed a petition that asked the judge to allow Britney to hire her own private counsel, arguing that it was a "first step" in addressing the singer's issues with the conservatorship. Lynne wrote in the filing obtained by E! News, "Clearly [Britney] needs private counsel to advise her as to her basic rights in this conservatorship."
Britney broke down in tears on Wednesday in court and said she is "extremely scared" of her father Jamie Spears. "I'm here to get rid of my dad and charge him with conservatorship abuse," she said, adding, "This conservatorship has allowed my dad to ruin my life."
Her new lawyer Mathew is already taking action: He said he will be filing a subsequent petition for Jamie to be removed and for Britney to end the conservatorship.
Today's hearing also addressed Bessemer Trust's July 1 request to withdraw as co-conservator of her estate—a position it shares with Jamie—because the financial group wants to "respects her wishes" about terminating the conservatorship. The judge approved Bessemer's resignation on Wednesday.
The hearing is expected to resume this afternoon after a short break. Also on the docket were multiple accounting requests from attorneys and conservators requesting to be paid for their services, pending approval from the judge and Jamie, who controls Britney's finances.
Jodi filed a petition for almost $300,000 for her and her attorneys' services. She also requested that the judge order Jamie to pay for her 24/7 security, alleging that she has received death threats due to the public nature of the case. Jamie's team objected to her security costs.
In addition, Jodi filed a petition to hire a court-approved guardian to help Britney secure her new legal counsel.
Britney's court-appointed attorney, Sam, requested that Jodi be made permanent conservator of Britney's person, as she's been temporarily serving in the position since 2019. At that time, father Jamie stepped down and continued only as conservator of her estate.
Jodi's lawyer told E! News in a statement on July 6 that the manager "remains committed to steadfastly supporting Ms. Spears" in her personal affairs. Per the statement, "Ms. Montgomery will continue to serve as a conservator for as long as Ms. Spears and the Court desire her to do so."
On July 14, Britney said that if she can't terminate the conservatorship altogether, she wants Jodi to stay on and help her as long as Jamie is removed.
The conservator of the person would oversee her security guards and other caretakers; restrict and limit guests (except for her lawyer); plan security and locations for those meetings; communicate with medical professionals about her health and be granted access to her medical records, according to Sam's March 22 petition.
For his part, Jamie requested further investigation into the conservatorship to get to the truth behind the allegations Britney made during her testimony last month. His June 29 court filing explained that he is "concerned about the management and care of his daughter" and wants the court to "investigate the veracity of the allegations and claims" his daughter made.
During last month's explosive testimony, she said her dad holds a significant amount of "control" over her, saying, "My precious body has worked for my dad for the past f--king 13 years, trying to be so good and pretty." She asked for the "abusive" conservatorship to end without further evaluation.
E! News has reached out to Jamie's attorney for comment. His lawyer said last month that Jamie is "sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain," explaining, "Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."
--Reporting by Alli Rosenbloom and Sophia Ghadoushi