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Britney Spears can hire own lawyer in conservatorship case

Britney Spears spoke in Los Angeles Superior Court

Britney Spears spoke in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday, three weeks after an earlier hearing on her conservatorship. Credit: Invision / AP / Jordan Strauss

A judge allowed Britney Spears to hire an attorney of her choosing at a hearing Wednesday in which she broke down in tears after describing the "cruelty" of her conservatorship.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny approved the pop star hiring former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, who called on Spears' father, James Spears, to immediately resign as her conservator.

"We will be moving promptly and aggressively for his removal," Rosengart said outside the courthouse. "The question remains, why is he involved?"

Britney Spears, taking part in the hearing by phone, told the judge she approved of Rosengart after several conversations with him. She then asked to address the court, but asked that the courtroom be cleared.

As Rosengart began to argue for a private hearing, Spears interrupted him to say "I can talk with it open."

"I would like to charge my father with conservatorship abuse," she said, speaking so rapidly that she was at times difficult for the court reporter and the dozens of media members in the courtroom to understand.

She said she wanted the conservatorship to end immediately but not if it required going through any more "stupid" evaluations.

"If this is not abuse, I don't know what is," Spears said as she described being denied things as basic as coffee, her driver's license and her "hair vitamins" by the conservatorship.

She also described suffering long-term "serious abandonment issues."

James Spears would not be stepping down as Rosengart challenged, his attorney Vivan Thoreen said in court, adding that he has only ever had his daughter's best interests in mind.

Thoreen said Britney Spears had many inaccurate beliefs, among them that "her father is responsible for all the bad things that have happened to her."

"Whether it's misinformation, lack of correction, or being wrongly advised, I don't know," Thoreen said, emphasizing that for nearly two years James Spears has had no say over his daughter's life choices, only her money.

The singer has been under court supervision, with her father and a team of attorneys controlling her life and finances, since February 2008. She was in the midst of a public meltdown at the time and her family sought the conservatorship for her protection.

Britney Spears has had throughout the proceedings a court-appointed attorney to represent her interests, Samuel Ingham III, but he resigned after a dramatic hearing three weeks ago in which the pop star told Penny: "I just want my life back."

Fans from the #FreeBritney movement outside the courthouse cheered the decision to appoint Rosengart, then cheered Rosengart himself when he walked out.

In court, he called into question whether the conservatorship should ever have been put into place back in 2008, and said that he and a team of attorneys from his firm would be taking a close look at the details of the arrangement.

The June 23 hearing was the first time Spears openly addressed the court, telling Penny that she was being forced to take medication and use an intrauterine device for birth control, was not allowed to marry her boyfriend, and wanted to control her own money.

In addition to Ingham's resignation, Spears' remarks last month led to the withdrawal of an estate-management company that was supposed to oversee her finances, and a volley of accusations between her father and a professional conservator over who's to blame for the legal circumstances Spears said are "abusive" and need to end.

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