Los Angeles, July 14 (IANS) A judge ruled that pop-singer Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, must sit for a deposition and produce all documents that are being requested by the pop star's team.
According to Variety, the judge ordered Spears' father to be deposed within the next 30 days in Los Angeles.
Judge Brenda Penny ordered Spears' father to produce all documents related to electronic surveillance.
This move favours the singer, and indicates that the court believes it has reason to further inquire into shocking allegations that Jamie Spears had hired a security firm that put his daughter under surveillance throughout her conservatorship, with allegations of monitoring her phone and bugging her bedroom to record her private conversations.
Prior to the judge's ruling on these motions, Jamie Spears' attorney, Alex Weingarten, asked the judge to give his team access to documents from the singer's team to help prepare for his client's deposition, reports Variety.
"It's a deposition. Not an ambush," Weingarten said in the courtroom, before Judge Penny ruled against his request.
The hearing at the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse was heated with fiery debate among Weingarten and the pop star's attorney, Mathew Rosengart.
Wednesday's hearing marked a big victory for the singer, who has been fighting against her father in a continuous legal battle ever since her conservatorship was terminated last year.
Spears was put under a court-ordered conservatorship in 2008 by her father, who acted as her sole conservator for most of the 13 years.
After more than a decade of fighting against the arrangement, Spears' father was suspended by the court in September 2021, and the conservatorship was ultimately terminated in November 2021. Despite the singer's newfound freedom, her legal team's battle has remained messy with no resolution from either side.
Still on the table after Wednesday's hearing is whether the singer will be deposed by her father's team.
The judge nearly reached a decision on that matter, first giving a tentative order to deny Jamie Spears' motion to depose his daughter, but then decided to continue the motion, asking the attorneys on both sides to present their arguments to the court on why the singer should or should not sit for a deposition, ahead of the July 27 hearing.
"You don't sit down a victim for a deposition to be deposed by the victimiser," Rosengart argued in the courtroom, telling the judge that sitting for a deposition would be "re-traumatising" to the singer.
Last month, Weingarten filed documents on behalf of Jamie Spears, requesting to depose his daughter, in light of her social media posts. Rosengart blasted the request, calling it a "revenge" and "sham".
In court on Wednesday, Weingarten said that having Spears sit for a deposition is par for the course, since she is a party in the case.
Rosengart firmly disagreed, arguing that Spears' father should have all the information he needs, given that he was the one who was running her conservatorship and making decisions about her life.
"Ms. Spears was in a conservatorship for 13 years that was run by her father," Rosengart told the judge.
"Mr. Spears is the individual who has documentation and first hand knowledge. Mr. Spears and the documentation serve as the evidence. Ms. Spears has no knowledge or documents," Rosengart continued, telling the judge that she is the victim in this situation.
"She's not the accuser. She's not the alleger," he said. "Ms. Spears is not a plaintiff here. Ms. Spears is not a defendant here."
Rosengart told the judge that his client's father is only filing motions to "drive up fees," instead of letting his daughter "move on with her life."
"She is free, and Mr. Spears wants to suck her back into the conservatorship" for "improper, immoral reasons," Rosengart said.
At one point, pleading with the judge to allow his team to depose the pop star, Weingarten said that "unfortunately" there are documents under seal and "court orders regarding" the electronic surveillance.
"Based on what I know," he said, "I suspect that Ms. Spears will be a treasure trove of information."
Weingarten said that if the judge decides the singer does not have to sit for a deposition, her father will not have his "fair day in court.
The attorney said he is being held to a "different standard" than other parties in the case, based on "unproven allegations."
"I appreciate that it's en vogue to trash Jamie Spears," Weingarten told the judge "But he has rights in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty."
"You do not put a victim back in front of the victimiser. It's the wrong thing to do," Rosengart shot back.
"That would be wrong, whether my client was Britney Spears or Jane Doe."
"The mere deposition itself is harassment," Rosengart told the judge.
Rosengart has been fighting against Jamie Spears and the singer's former business manager, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment, ever since he was retained by Spears in summer 2021.
He has accused the company of "stonewalling" his attempts to obtain information for his client, refusing to cooperate and avoiding deposition. Spears' legal team said they have been requesting to depose the elder Spears for nine months, and claimed he has evaded those requests. At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Penny moved in favour of the star, agreeing that her father has failed to appear for his deposition.
Earlier this month, in bombshell court documents, Rosengart claimed that his client's father and Tri Star were in cahoots to create the conservatorship and reap the benefits by taking millions of the superstar's hard-earned money, rather than looking out for her best interest, which they deny.
Rosengart claimed that Tri Star was directly involved in creating the conservatorship and received at least $18 million throughout it.
Lawyers for Tri Star denied these claims, stating, "As all the evidence makes abundantly clear, the conservatorship was set up on the recommendation of legal counsel, not Tri Star, and approved by the Court for more than 12 years."
Spears' father and Tri Star have denied all claims of improper behaviour, despite been the subject of damning accusations. While the surveillance allegations have largely focused on Spears' father and Black Box, the security team he was alleged to have hired, Tri Star has been at the centre of extensive claims of financial mismanagement.
A report in the New York Times alleged the star was under surveillance from a security team hired by her father and that Tri Star was involved in monitoring the singer's phone.
At the time, a lawyer for Tri Star told Times, "These allegations are not true." Earlier this month, Weingarten filed a sworn declaration from Jamie Spears, denying having any awareness of his adult daughter's private bedroom being bugged or authorising surveillance of the pop star.
"I am informed of the allegation by Britney's counsel that a listening device or 'bug' was placed her bedroom as surveillance during the conservatorship," the declaration stated.
"This allegation is false."
Weingarten did not speak to members of the media after the hearing on Wednesday, but outside of the courthouse, Rosengart told reporters that his client wants to simply "move on."
"Mr. Spears, if he loves his daughter, as he professes he does, should leave her alone," Rosengart told reporters, including Variety.
"He should get on with his life, instead of continuing to litigate against his daughter."
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