Britney Spears' lawyers push for end to father's control
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Los Angeles (AFP) –
Britney Spears' bid to end her father's controversial guardianship could reach its conclusion in a new court hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday, after weeks of twists and turns -- and two major new documentaries about the pop star.
The courtroom was at full capacity, with some fans arriving before dawn to try to get one of the small number of available public seats.
Spears' father has controlled her life for the past 13 years, under a controversial legal arrangement that the 39-year-old US singer has slammed as "abusive" and that her lawyers have demanded be scrapped.
Jamie Spears "must be suspended on September 29th; followed by the prompt termination of the conservatorship," her lawyer Mathew Rosengart wrote in a filing this week.
"Every day that goes by with him as conservator -- every day and every hour -- is one in which he causes his daughter anguish and pain," the petition says.
Those claims were seemingly bolstered by a New York Times documentary released Friday that alleged Jamie Spears had surveillance devices secretly installed in his daughter's bedroom to record her conversations.
"It really reminded me of somebody that was in prison," a former security firm employee told the "Controlling Britney Spears" filmmakers.
The pop star's lawyers this week said the Times' allegations about Jamie Spears showed "horrifying and unconscionable invasions of his adult daughter's privacy."
Jamie Spears denies any illegal surveillance took place.
Yet another new documentary -- Netflix's "Britney vs Spears," released on Tuesday -- claims the singer twice tried to hire her own lawyer in the early years of the conservatorship, but was denied.
In July, Spears was finally successful in appointing her own lawyer -- Rosengart -- and last month, her father filed a petition for the conservatorship to be ended.
But while he acknowledged his daughter "believes that she can handle her own life," he remains in place.
Around 100 fans gathered on the blocked off main street outside the courtroom, chanting "Britney's body Britney's choice" and "Hey hey ho ho, the conservatorship has got to go."
Many held colorful signs with slogans such as "Jail Jamie" and the ubiquitous "Free Britney" plea that has been taken up around the world by her supporters on social media.
- 'Never fit to serve' -
In the petition this week, Spears' lawyers accuse her father of seeking to delay the end of the guardianship for his own financial benefit.
His efforts are "a subterfuge, designed to avoid the stigma of being suspended and its consequences, including the likelihood of disgorgement and rejection of outstanding legal fees," the petition alleges.
"Disgorgement" is a legal term meaning the repayment of ill-gotten gains.
Spears' representatives and fans have long accused her father of profiting from the guardianship, which was set up after a highly public 2007 breakdown when the shaven-headed star attacked a paparazzo's car at a gas station.
Meanwhile, Jamie Spears has objected to his daughter's choice of a new temporary conservator to replace him, saying that certified public accountant John Zabel lacks the necessary experience, US media reported Monday.
In turn, Spears' lawyers say her father was "never fit to serve," citing in their petition allegations of his "reported alcoholism" and "trauma he caused his daughter since her childhood."
Many of those barbs are likely to resurface in Wednesday's hearing, when a total of 15 petitions are listed to be heard by Judge Brenda Penny.
© 2021 AFP