February 27, 2008 / 1:56 AM / 10 years ago

Britney Spears case to stay in California court

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday ruled the case of pop singer Britney Spears’ conservatorship should remain in a California court, effectively allowing the troubled performer’s father to keep control of her affairs.

Britney Spears drives her car out of the garage of Los Angeles Superior Court after a child custody hearing with her ex-husband regarding her two sons in Los Angeles, California in this file photo from October 26, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez said attorney Jon Eardley, who claimed Spears’ civil rights were violated by California officials, could not be Spears’ attorney and, as a result, was not entitled to move the case to federal court.

If the case had gone to federal court, Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, might have seen the end of his control over her financial and personal affairs.

“Mr. Eardley had no authority to remove the case from state court. He is neither a party nor a defendant,” Gutierrez wrote in his ruling.

In a written declaration, Eardley said he was hired by Britney Spears on February 12, and had spoken to her on several occasions. The last time they talked, Eardley said the phone was taken from her and the number was disconnected.

Gutierrez ruled Britney Spears had no authority to hire Eardley on February 12 because she was under the conservatorship, and the California court had already appointed another attorney to act on her behalf.

A spokesman for Eardley said he was attempting to reach the attorney for comment.

Spears, 26, has seen her life spin out of control following her breakup with ex-husband Kevin Federline in late 2006.

She has spent time in rehab, exhibited bizarre behavior in public like wearing pink wigs and talking in a British accent despite the fact she is a native of Louisiana, and she lost custody and visitation rights to her two sons.

In January, she was hospitalized twice and placed under psychiatric evaluation. On February 1, Jamie Spears was named her co-conservator along with attorney Andrew Wallet. On February 4, the California court ruled she did not have the capacity to retain counsel and extended the conservatorship to February 14.

The conservatorship was extended again and remains in effect until March 10.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney

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