Aspis raises fresh capital
The lawyers who have been toiling for Britney Spears and her family are about to cash in big-time.
A court commissioner on Thursday approved a request from Britney's coconservators to pay nearly $400,000 in legal bills using money from her estate's private trust, which includes the "Toxic" singer's bank and brokerage accounts and is temporarily under her brother, Bryan Spears', control.
Coconservator Andrew Wallet and attorneys representing Britney, dad Jamie Spears and Bryan Spears were the only ones present at the afternoon hearing, during which all agreed it would be all right to dip into the pop princess' estimated $100 million fortune to settle their fees.
"The conservators monitor closely every penny that goes in and out," conservatorship attorney Geraldine Wyle said in supporting the decision.
Britney's estate has been paying her medical and personal bills, as well as her $1,500 per week in "walking-around money," Jamie Spears' weekly $2,500 allowance and legal fees related to her conservatorship and child-custody proceedings.
Following a brief closed session, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz allocated a $100,000 advance to Wallet; $10,000 per week to Britney's court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham, until July 31, when the temporary conservatorship is currently set to expire; $175,000 to Wyle's firm, Luce Forward; $22,500 for Bryan Spears' attorney, Clark Byam; and $75,000 to family attorney Stacy Phillips, who was recently rehired to fight Britney's custody battles.
All of the advances are an estimated half of what the lawyers will eventually bill and cover work done through March 31.
Goetz also delayed a ruling on Bryan Spears' request to consolidate all of his sister's name-brand businesses and other companies within her trust until July 31, when the court is expect to decide whether a permanent conservatorship should be established.
The commissioner also took the opportunity to further censure attorney Jon Eardley's latest attempt to wrest control of Britney's welfare away from her dad, citing a federal judge's previous ruling that Eardley had no authority to act on the popster's behalf.
"[U.S. District Judge Philip] Gutierrez in the federal court, as well as this court several times, have made findings that Eardley is not an attorney of record for Ms. Spears," Goetz reiterated Thursday. "There has been no finding that he represents her."
A three-judge panel tossed out Eardley's appeal of the conservatorship on March 24.
In a statement released by spokesman Michael Sands, Eardley, who says he was not notified of Thursday's hearing, called the awarding of fees "excessive and unnecessary."
By Natalie Finn
Thu, 17 Apr 2008 04:31:16 PM PDT