After recordings of the remote audio from Britney Spears’ blistering 24-minute statement during her June 23 conservatorship hearing began circulating widely over the web, Los Angeles County courts have decided to end their remote audio attendance program completely. Despite warnings on the web page of the audio broadcast, which was open only to involved parties and the media, and from Judge Brenda Penny, recordings were readily available just minutes after her statement was broadcast; Penny shut down the remote audio shortly after Spears had made her statement.
No recordings of court hearings are allowed without written advance permission from the judge, according to state and local policies. The 2019 California Rules of Court read: “Any violation of this rule or an order made under this rule is an unlawful interference with the proceedings of the court and may be the basis for an order terminating media coverage, a citation for contempt of court, or an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law.”
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Asked for comment, L.A. County Superior Court Communications Director Ann E. Donlan told the Hollywood Reporter: “Parties who publish unauthorized recordings of court proceedings in violation of a court order are subject to sanctions and other potential liability pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 1209 and other applicable law.”
The day after the hearing, the court announced that the program, which was launched last year in response to the pandemic, would be shut down on Monday of this week.
“Effective June 28, the Court will no longer offer the Remote Audio Attendance Program (RAAP) to listen remotely to courtroom proceedings,” it reads. “The Court implemented this temporary program during the pandemic recognizing there may be abuses of the Court’s orders prohibiting recording, filming, and distribution of proceedings. Widespread breaches by the public in a recent court proceeding highlighted the need to return to in person, open courtroom proceedings, which is a welcome development.”
On Thursday, Bessemer Trust, a professional wealth management firm that was poised to take over as co-conservator of Britney Spears’ estate and work with her father, asked to resign from the arrangement. The company, which manages more than $100 billion in assets, said it was requesting to withdraw “due to changed circumstances.” In the filing, the firm said it had been told the singer’s conservatorship was voluntary and under her consent, but in her blistering, 24-minute statement against the conservatorship in court last week made clear that she is opposed to it, or at least her father, Jamie Spears continuing as her conservator.
She has said multiple times that wants him removed as her conservator; her most recent request, which pre-dated last week’s statement, was denied by Judge Brenda Penny on Wednesday.
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