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Judge removes Britney Spears’ father from conservatorship

A judge ruled on Wednesday to remove the elder Spears and appointed a temporary conservator.

Britney Spears is finally free from her father's control.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny ruled Wednesday to suspend James "Jamie" Spears as his pop star daughter's conservator.

"The situation is not tenable. ... The situation is toxic," Penny said. "I believe suspension is in the best interest of the conservator."

Earlier this month, Jamie Spears filed a petition to end the controversial conservatorship after 13 years. His petition came after intense media scrutiny, as well as Britney Spears, 39, filing a request in March for him to resign as conservator and be replaced with a professional conservator.

Jamie Spears' attorney, Vivian L. Thoreen, called the outcome of Wednesday's hearing "a loss for Britney" in a statement issued Thursday on behalf of her client.

"Respectfully, the court was wrong to suspend Mr. Spears, put a stranger in his place to manage Britney's estate, and extend the very conservatorship that Britney begged the court to terminate earlier this summer," the statement read in part. "Despite the suspension, Mr. Spears will continue to look out for the best interests of his daughter and work in good faith towards a positive resolution of all matters."

Ahead of Wednesday's hearing, Jamie Spears filed documents opposing John Zabel as his replacement, arguing that the certified public accountant "does not appear to have the background and experience required to take over" his daughter's $60 million estate. Regardless, Zabel was appointed as a temporary conservator Wednesday.

As part of Wednesday's ruling, Jamie Spears will have to hand over all records to the newly instated temporary conservator.

Britney Spears' lawyer, Matthew Rosengart, said in a press conference following Wednesday's court proceedings that he believes the records from Jamie Spears will show wrongdoing.

"The attorney-client communications between Mr. Spears on the one hand, and his lawyers on the other, I believe, will reveal corruption in that regard, and that’s something that we look forward to vigorously looking into," Rosengart said. Rosengart previously accused the elder Spears in a filing of profiting off the conservatorship and mismanaging her finances.

In his presser on Wednesday, Rosengart added that Britney Spears' career is firmly back in her hands.

"Her future, in terms of if and when she performs again is that decision that Britney and only Britney can make. And that’s an important point, because for so long, for so long, decisions were made for her," he said. "That’s a decision that she and only she will make. And that’s the way it will be going forward."

The pop star broke down in tears at a hearing in July, saying she was "extremely scared" of her father and saying the conservatorship has allowed her father to ruin her life by controlling every aspect of her behavior and work schedule.

She claimed the legal arrangement prevented her from getting married and having more children.


“Their goal was to make me feel crazy, and I’m not,” she said at the hearing. “And that’s not OK.”

Spears appears to be trying to move forward with her life, as she shared on Sept. 12 that she has gotten engaged to boyfriend Sam Asghari.

The elder Spears has been in control of the conservatorship since 2008 following a public breakdown by Britneye has repeatedly denied accusations of abuse by his daughter in his role as conservator.

Britney's fans have spent years protesting the conservatorship in the #FreeBritney movement in the belief that her father was exploiting her. A pair of recent New York Times documentaries on Hulu and a separate documentary on Netflix have also examined her case in depth through court documents and interviews with former employees, friends and boyfriends of Spears.

Rosengart said on Wednesday that #FreeBritney movement had been "instrumental" in the case.

"It’s a great day for Britney Spears, and it’s a great day for justice," he added.

Later Wednesday, Britney Spears posted to her Instagram account a video of her piloting a propeller plane.

"On cloud 9 right now," she wrote. "Stay classy beautiful people!!!!"

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 12. Rosengart said he believed "ultimate termination" of the conservatorship will happen then.

Samantha Kubota and Alexandra Hess contributed.