Pop Culture

Judge extends restraining order vs. Lutfi

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Britney Spears’ pal Sam Lutfi to stay away from the struggling pop star.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez extended a restraining order against Lutfi until March 17, when a hearing was scheduled on the matter.

The action came on the same day Lutfi was formally served with the restraining order, which was issued earlier this month by a Superior Court commissioner.

In court papers, Jeffrey Wexler, an attorney for her father, James Spears, wrote that “after three weeks of apparently evading service,” Lutfi was served at 11 a.m. outside his Los Angeles apartment.

The order, which requires Lutfi to stay 250 yards away from Spears and her home, was set to expire Friday. Wexler had asked for the order to be extended.

On Feb. 7, Spears’ mother, Lynne, requested the temporary restraining order against the troubled singer’s frequent companion and sometime manager. She claimed Lutfi had held Spears hostage in her own home, drugged her and took over her finances.

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Attorneys for James Spears, who was named co-conservator of his daughter’s estate, told a Superior Court commissioner that investigators spent more than 200 hours trying to locate Lutfi and serve him the restraining order.

Spears and her estate, estimated to be worth $100 million, were placed under a temporary conservatorship after she was taken to UCLA Medical Center on Jan. 31. Conservatorships are granted for people deemed unable to care for themselves or their affairs.

Gutierrez’s action was somewhat unusual because the case was being tried in Superior Court. However, a lawyer claiming to represent Spears filed papers on Feb. 14 to move it to federal court, claiming the terms of the conservatorship violate her civil rights.

On Wednesday, Gutierrez ordered attorney Jon Eardley to clarify by Feb. 29 why the pop star’s conservatorship belongs in federal court.

Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said Gutierrez’s decision to extend the restraining order appeared to be an attempt to “maintain the status quo” in the case until the jurisdictional issue is sorted out.

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