Los Angeles judge bars Lutfi and extends father’s role in Britney Spears’ finances



By Linda Deutsch

LOS ANGELES – Britney Spears’ father was granted control of her finances until Valentine’s Day by a judge who also barred the troubled pop star from contacting her friend and sometime manager, Sam Lutfi.

Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz also appointed a physician Monday to evaluate whether Spears, who is in a psychiatric ward, is competent to make decisions.

Her father, James Spears, and an attorney were granted conservatorship last week after the 26-year-old was hospitalized for the second time in two months following increasingly bizarre behavior.

The commissioner extended that conservatorship until Feb. 14. It allows Spears’ father, and attorney Andrew Wallet, to make decisions involving the singer’s assets and even who enters her home.

The commissioner also tried to further distance Spears from Lutfi, who sometimes spoke on her behalf and had been seen escorting her about town.

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Spears was ordered to have no contact with him by phone, texting, or any other means.

The commissioner extended a restraining order against Lutfi that was issued last week, although court spokesman Allan Parachini said the original order had not yet been served.

In a Monday text message to The Associated Press, Lutfi said: “I have no problems with anyone writing anything negative against me. My image is not of concern, hers is.”

A police motorcade helped shepherd Spears to UCLA Medical Center last Thursday for a 72-hour mental evaluation. She was originally to be released Sunday but doctors and a ward medical officer decided to keep her for two more weeks. They cited a state law that allows holding patients for treatment if they are found to be gravely disabled or a danger to themselves or others.

The question of Spears’ competency came up again Monday as an attorney, Adam Streisand, unsuccessfully argued that the pop star told him by phone that she wanted her father removed as conservator.

“She has expressed to me very strongly (her wish) that her father not be the conservator,” Streisand said. “There has been an estrangement for quite some time. With him as conservator, that is causing her more agitation and more distress.”

Streisand, who placed Spears’ estate assets at $40 million or more, also said he believed he had been authorized to represent Spears.

But court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham said he interviewed Spears on Sunday at the hospital and determined she didn’t understand the court proceedings, and “she lacks the capacity to retain counsel.”

Attorney Vivian Thoreen, who represents Spears’ father, said her client should continue to be conservator because “his daughter is in great distress.”

“He’s not here to take over her assets,” Thoreen said. “He’s here to get her medical help. He’s here to take over while she’s healing.”

Raquel Maria Dillon and Solvej Schou contributed to this story for The Associated Press.