By almost all accounts, after several years of bizarre, outrageous behavior, [artist id="501686"]Britney Spears[/artist] has been under strict control since her father was named the conservator of her estate last February, taking over the management of her personal and financial affairs.
But according to testimony on Wednesday from Christina Lutfi, the sister of Spears' purported former manager, Sam Lutfi, the singer has chafed under the strict guidelines imposed by Jamie Spears and has said in recent months that she was afraid of her father and wanted help hiring her own lawyer. The Associated Press reported that the testimony came during a hearing in which Spears' attorneys and conservatorship asked a judge to impose a restraining order against Lutfi, preventing him from contacting the singer.
The lawyers for Spears reportedly reiterated on Wednesday that in December and January, Lutfi allegedly violated an agreement he had reached last summer with Jamie Spears. Under the agreement, Jamie Spears would not ask a judge to extend a temporary restraining order issued against Lutfi if the manager consented not to contact Britney.
Christina Lutfi testified that Britney told her she was afraid of her father and needed Sam's help to hire her own outside attorney. Christina said that Sam gave Britney a prepaid cell phone, which she secretly slipped to Spears in a sauna at the Peninsula Hotel in Los Angeles in January, so that Britney and Sam could be in touch. Christina also said she repeatedly called the number to check up on Britney and make sure she was safe, but under questioning from Jamie Spears' attorneys, Christina could not recall the phone number of one of her brother's cell phones or the number of the phone she allegedly gave Spears.
Lawyers for Lutfi had introduced Christina as a surprise witness moments after Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb rejected a motion to dismiss the restraining order currently in place. Bobb ruled that the temporary order will stay in place until she hears closing arguments on April 21.
At a February hearing, Jamie Spears testified that he had found and confiscated the phone, which appeared to have evidence of communication between Britney and Lutfi, as well as Britney's ex-boyfriend, paparazzo Adnan Ghalib. The discovery of the phone and evidence of late-night and early-morning calls from Lutfi set off the application for the current restraining order.
According to the AP, Lutfi's attorney, Bryan Freedman, argued Wednesday that Jamie Spears' attorneys hadn't shown enough evidence that the pop singer had suffered "substantial emotional distress" as a result of the alleged calls and text messages from his client. But Bobb rejected that argument when Freedman asked her to dismiss the case, saying testimony from Britney Spears' hairdresser and a security guard indicated that the singer was troubled by Lutfi's calls and texts.
According to UsMagazine.com, Jamie Spears' lawyer, Blair Berk, also discussed a widely distributed voicemail that recently surfaced online in which someone claiming to be Britney asks for help getting out from under her father's control. Berk claimed that the tape sounded as if it had been edited and that she doesn't believe it is Britney speaking.
While promoting her album and Circus tour, Spears has been almost entirely silent about her conservatorship. But she did seem to complain about it in MTV's "Britney: For the Record."
"There's no excitement, no passion," she said on the show. "It's just like 'Groundhog Day' every day. ... It's really boring."