Britney Spears is one step closer to freedom. In a pivotal, dramatic hearing on Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny suspended Jamie Spears as conservator of the singer's estate. The decision comes months after the pop star publicly accused her father of abuse.
"I do believe that the suspension of James Spears as conservator … is in the best interest of the conservatee," Penny said. "This order shall be made in full force and effect."
Certified public accountant John Zabel will temporarily replace Jamie. Britney's conservator of the person, Jodi Montgomery, remains. The judge ordered Jamie to turn over all assets to Zabel as soon as possible. Britney's lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, said he wants the conservatorship terminated this fall. That could potentially happen on Nov. 12, when Judge Penny will consider a request to end it altogether.
"It's been a lot of hard work, it's been intense. I'm proud, Britney's proud," Rosengart told reporters after court, per CNN. "I think the support of the #FreeBritney movement has been instrumental. To the extent that it allowed my firm to carry the ball across the finish line, I thank them as well."
Britney, who did not attend the hearing, posted an interesting message on Wednesday evening.
The singer's fiancé, Sam Asghari, wrote, "Congratulations!!!!!!!!!"
At the hearing, Rosengart claimed Jamie has abused Britney since childhood and repeated allegations that he illicitly recorded Britney in private moments with her sons and then boyfriend, something the attorney characterized as "unfathomable." He demanded for Jamie's immediate suspension rather than for termination of the conservatorship, laying out multiple factors why such a move is in Britney's best interest.
Meanwhile, Jamie's lawyers petitioned for the conservatorship to end today. Although Britney wants such an outcome eventually, immediate termination would mean her father could be absolved of potential crimes because communication he has had with attorneys about the conservatorship for the last 13 years would remain privileged. The elder Spears would be off the hook for more $1 million as he wouldn't have to turn over records to the court.
The fan-led #FreeBritney movement was spawned years ago, with supporters crying out that the singer was being held in the conservatorship against her will. Britney confirmed that in June with her explosive testimony in open court, begging the judge to terminate it without being medically evaluated.
"My dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship, including my management … they should be in jail," Britney declared, comparing her father to a sex-trafficker. The singer claimed she was forced to be on birth control despite wanting kids with Asghari. She alleged doctors put her on Lithium against her wishes and that she was forced into a mental health facility — and those were just a few of her shocking statements.
Fallout within the conservatorship was swift after Britney's stunning 24-minute testimony. Samuel Ingham, her court appointed lawyer since 2008, filed paperwork asking to be dismissed. Larry Rudolph, the singer's longtime manager, resigned. Wealth-management group Bessemer Trust, which was set to take over as co-conservator of her estate alongside Jamie, resigned. However, Jamie remained.
Family law attorney Christopher C. Melcher of Walzer Melcher explained to Yahoo Entertainment why Jamie wanting to terminate the conservatorship was likely in his best interest.
"Jamie wants the conservatorship to terminate so that all of the communications that he's had with the attorneys for the conservatorship would remain privileged," Melcher suggested.
"Basically everything Jamie has done since the conservatorship was put in place in 2008 was done in a representative capacity. That includes hiring the lawyers — and communicating with lawyers. In a normal attorney-client relationship, it's the individual client talking to the lawyer and all of the communications are privileged forever," he continued. "But here, Jamie is acting on behalf of the conservatorship when he hired these lawyers and acting on behalf of the conservatorship when he spoke to them. Therefore, if he is replaced and a new person is installed as a temporary conservator, that person then holds this privilege and would have the right to demand — and would get — all of the files for the last 13 years between Jamie and the attorneys that Jamie probably thought would never see the light of day. And those attorneys probably thought would always be kept secret but now could be revealed."
Melcher added it's "potentially a gold mine of evidence."
A second hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13, when the judge will address financial matters.