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A prominent Hollywood attorney has been in talks with Britney Spears for the past few days to represent her in her conservatory battle, and he plans to attend a hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday to begin the process of adopting her as her attorney, so a person who has been informed of The Reason.
For the past 13 years, under a strict legal regime that limits many of her rights, Ms. Spears has been represented by a court-appointed attorney whom she criticized at a hearing last month when she asked the court to hire her own attorney .
Ms. Spears has told others that she wants to take a far more aggressive legal approach. In the past few days, she has started talks with Mathew S. Rosengart, a former federal attorney who has represented several celebrities in recent years, about him and his company taking over the restoration and pushing for an end to the conservatories, the person said.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity, as Ms. Spears did not arrest Mr. Rosengart and a judge is required to sign such an agreement. TMZ first reported that Ms. Spears was interested in Mr. Rosengart representing her.
If the court permits, Ms. Spears’ retention of Mr. Rosengart would mean a drastic change in the handling of the case. Confidential court documents recently received by the New York Times showed that Ms. Spears had voiced strong objections to the conservatory for several years, questioning her father’s aptitude as a conservator. Mr Rosengart is expected to aggressively pursue an avenue to terminate the agreement.
The feud has escalated in recent months as scrutiny of the unusual conservatories intensified and Ms. Spears publicly questioned their legitimacy. Guardianship was introduced in 2008 when her father, James P. Spears, filed a motion for legal authority over his daughter out of concern for her mental health and possible substance abuse. Several pillars of the Conservatory have fallen since her statement in court on June 23: Bessemer Trust, the asset management firm that was to take over as co-administrator of their estate, requested to withdraw; Mrs. Spears’ longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, resigned; and Samuel D. Ingham III, the attorney appointed by the court in 2008 to represent her when she was deemed unfit to hire her own attorney, asked the court if he could resign.
Mr Ingham said on a judicial file that he would serve until the court appoints a new lawyer for Ms. Spears, but it is not clear how a new lawyer will be selected or whether Judge Brenda Penny, who oversees the case, will would allow Mrs. Spears to have a say on the matter.
Mr Rosengart, 58, once served as a clerk for former New Hampshire State Judge David Souter just before he was nominated for the Supreme Court. Mr. Rosengart served in the Justice Department as an assistant US attorney in the 1990s.
After leaving the Ministry of Justice, he worked as a business defender and civil litigation attorney. In recent years he has represented several high profile Hollywood personalities including Sean Penn, Steven Spielberg and Kenneth Lonergan.
In the case of Mr. Penn, Mr. Rosengart helped him win a defamation case against a director who made allegations about Mr. Penn’s previous conduct. The attorney produced an affidavit from Madonna, the actor’s ex-wife, refuting the director’s claims. Mr. Penn said in a statement on Sunday that Mr. Rosengart is “a tough street fighter with a big brain and greater principles.”
At a June 23 hearing, Ms. Spears vehemently criticized the conservatory, claiming she had been forced to perform, take debilitating drugs, and remain under birth control.
She also asked questions about Mr. Ingham’s advocacy on her behalf. She said in court that she did not know how to end the agreement.
“I didn’t know I could move to quit the conservatory,” Ms. Spears, 39, said in court. “I’m sorry for my ignorance, but to be honest, I didn’t know that.” She added, “My lawyer says I can’t – it’s not good, I can’t tell the public what they did to me.”
“He told me to really keep it to myself,” said the singer.
It is not known what private discussions Mr. Ingham and Mrs. Spears have had about whether or how they might move to terminate the Conservatories. Last year, Mr. Ingham began looking for significant setup changes on behalf of Ms. Spears, including attempts to remove power from her father, who remains in control of the singer’s nearly $ 60 million net worth.
Mr. Ingham’s request for resignation also included the letter of resignation from the law firm Loeb & Loeb, which Mr. Ingham had contacted last year in preparation for a legal dispute.
An attorney for Lynne Spears, mother of Ms. Spears and an interested party in the Conservatory, has asked the court to allow Ms. Spears to use her own private legal counsel.
Mrs. Spears’ personal attendant, Jodi Montgomery, recently filed an urgent petition with the court for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to solely assist Ms. Spears in choosing her own lawyer. The file states that Ms. Spears “repeatedly and consistently” sought Ms. Montgomery’s assistance in finding a new lawyer and that Ms. Spears deserved to be represented by a high-profile law firm.