Britney Spears’ father says ‘no grounds’ for his removal

By Andrew Dalton | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Britney Spears’ father said in a court filing Friday that there are “no grounds whatsoever” for removing him from the conservatorship that controls her money and affairs.

James Spears “has dutifully and faithfully served as the conservator of his daughter’s estate without any blemishes on his record,” the filing said.

James Spears’ filing also says that court-appointed professional Jodi Montgomery, who oversees Britney Spears’ life decisions while her father handles her money, called him, distraught, last month and sought his help with his daughter’s mental health struggles. Montgomery and her lawyer said in response that James Spears “misrepresented and manipulated” the call to use it to his own advantage.

James Spears’ filing came in response to court papers filed a day earlier by Britney Spears’ new attorney Matthew Rosengart, which requested an emergency hearing as soon as possible to suspend him from the conservatorship.

James Spears said Rosengart “does not (and cannot) specify what the wrongdoing is” to prompt such a suspension.

James Spears stepped aside from the part of the conservatorship that controls his daughter’s life decisions in 2019, with Montgomery taking over, though her official status remains temporary.

The allegations made by Britney Spears at hearings in June and July that seem to have spurred Rosengart’s call for her father’s removal, including “serious allegations regarding forced medical treatment and therapy, improper medical care, and limitations on personal rights,” are “untested” and involve issues that have long been Montgomery’s responsibility, not his, said Jamie Spears’ filing.

James Spears says the call for his urgent removal is “ironic” considering the call he received from Montgomery on July 9.

“Ms. Montgomery sounded very distraught and expressed how concerned she was about my daughters’ recent behavior and overall mental health,” James Spears said in a personal declaration included with his court filing. “Ms. Montgomery explained that my daughter was not timely or properly taking her medications, was not listening to the recommendations of her medical team, and refused to even see some of her doctors. Ms. Montgomery said she was very worried about the direction my daughter was heading in and directly asked for my help to address these issues.”

James Spears said they discussed the possibility of hospitalizing Britney Spears on an emergency psychiatric hold.

Montgomery acknowledged, in a statement through her attorney Lauriann Wright, having concerns about Britney Spears’ behavior and mental health, but said James Spears’ stepping down would only help.

The statement said “having her father Jamie Spears continuing to serve as her Conservator instead of a neutral professional fiduciary is having a serious impact on Ms. Spears’ mental health.”

At no time during the phone call did Montgomery suggest Britney Spears qualifies for a psychiatric hold, the statement said.

Montgomery reached out to Jamie Spears because she was concerned that an investigation of Britney Spears’ allegations, which he was seeking, would be harmful to her.

“The concern that Ms. Montgomery did raise to Mr. Spears during their telephone call is that forcing Ms. Spears to take the stand to testify or to have her evaluated would move the needle in the wrong direction for her mental health,” the statement said.

Montgomery was “saddened” that the call “is now being misrepresented and manipulated” by James Spears “to gain some sort of tactical advantage in the pending proceedings to remove him.”

The fighting between those involved in the conservatorship has grown increasingly heated, and increasingly public, since Spears’ dramatic testimony at a hearing on June 23, when she told a judge, “I just want my life back.”

A hearing to address Rosengart’s petition to remove James Spears is scheduled for Sept. 29, unless the judge grants his request to hold one sooner.

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Court says California must more quickly move mentally incompetent defendants out of jails

SAN FRANCISCO — California can’t lock up people for months in jails after they have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, a state appeals court said.

In a 3-0 ruling Tuesday, a panel of the First District Court of Appeal upheld a 2019 lower court order that gave the state a 28-day deadline for placing defendants in state mental hospitals or other treatment facilities after they were found incompetent to stand trial because of psychological or intellectual disabilities.

The appellate court also included people charged with certain felony sex offenses, rejecting an exception carved out in the earlier Alameda County ruling.

The previous ruling had set a phase-in period that ends next year.

State law says people facing criminal charges but who are judged incompetent to face trial can be ordered committed for treatment to help them become capable of understanding trial proceedings.

Two years before the 2019 time limit was enacted, defendants waited 86 days on average after a judge issued the transfer order to get into a hospital, according to the appellate court.

California has “systematically violated the due-process rights” of these defendants by keeping them for longer periods in jails where they may suffer further problems because of crowding, violence and a lack of treatment, Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline said in the ruling.

The decision involved a 2015 lawsuit filed against the state Department of State Hospitals and Department of Developmental Services on behalf of five relatives of defendants who were found incompetent to stand trial.

Due to lack of space, about 4,000 people each year who are declared incompetent to stand trial are placed on a waitlist for admission to facilities administered by those departments, and the list for admission to state hospitals alone soared to more than 1,600 people during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of 500% since 2013, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which took part in the lawsuit.

The ACLU has urged use of community treatment centers to help ease the hospital bed shortage.

“The court recognized that California cannot continue to warehouse people in jail for months at a time while it denies them both their right to a trial and the mental health treatment they need to become competent to have a trial,” Michael Risher, counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, said in a statement.

“This ruling is a step in the right direction, and our family is very grateful,” said Stephanie Stiavetti, a plaintiff who said her brother was abused in jail during weeks of delay before his transfer.

“The state needs to recognize that there are far too many mental health patients suffering in jails, lost in a system that is rife with abuse and ill-prepared to care for them,” she said in a statement. “Immediate legislation is needed to ensure that people with mental health disorders receive treatment promptly and outside of the jail system.”

The Department of State Hospitals told the San Francisco Chronicle that it was reviewing the ruling.

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Citing suicide risk, UK judge refuses extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to U.S.

By JILL LAWLESS | The Associated Press

LONDON  — A British judge on Monday rejected the United States’ request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges, saying he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected allegations that Assange is being prosecuted for political reasons or would not receive a fair trial in the United States. But she said his precarious mental health would likely deteriorate further under the conditions of “near total isolation” he would face in U.S. prison.

“I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America,” the judge said.

She said Assange was “a depressed and sometimes despairing man” who had the “intellect and determination” to circumvent any suicide prevention measures taken by American prison authorities.

The U.S. government said it would appeal the decision. Assange’s lawyers said they would ask for his release from a London prison where he has been held for more than a year-and-a-half at a bail hearing on Wednesday.

Assange, who sat in the dock at London’s Central Criminal Court for the ruling, wiped his brow as the decision was announced. His partner Stella Moris, with whom he has two young sons, wept.

Assange’s American lawyer, Barry Pollack, said the legal team was “enormously gratified by the U.K. court’s decision denying extradition.”

“The effort by the United States to prosecute Julian Assange and seek his extradition was ill-advised from the start,” he said. “We hope that after consideration of the U.K. court’s ruling, the United States will decide not to pursue the case further.”

The ruling marks a dramatic moment in Assange’s years-long legal battles in Britain — though likely not its final chapter.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

Lawyers for the 49-year-old Australian argue that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The judge, however, said Assange’s actions, if proven, would “amount to offenses in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech.”

The defense also argued during a three-week hearing in the fall that extradition threatens Assange’s human rights because he risks “a grossly disproportionate sentence” and detention in “draconian and inhumane conditions” that would exacerbate his severe depression and other mental health problems.

The judge agreed that U.S. prison conditions would be oppressive. She accepted evidence from expert witnesses that Assange had a depressive disorder and an autism spectrum disorder.

“I accept that oppression as a bar to extradition requires a high threshold. … However, I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder,” the judge said in her ruling.

Lawyers for the U.S. government deny that Assange is being prosecuted merely for publishing the leaked documents, saying the case “is in large part based upon his unlawful involvement” in the theft of the diplomatic cables and military files by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

The prosecution of Assange has been condemned by journalists and human rights groups, who say it undermines free speech around the world.

They welcomed the judge’s decision, even though it was not made on free-speech grounds.

“This is a huge relief to anyone who cares about the rights of journalists,” The Freedom of the Press Foundation tweeted:

“The extradition request was not decided on press freedom grounds; rather, the judge essentially ruled the U.S. prison system was too repressive to extradite. However, the result will protect journalists everywhere.”

Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. In 2012, to avoid being sent to Sweden, Assange sought refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he was beyond the reach of U.K. and Swedish authorities — but also effectively a prisoner, unable to leave the tiny diplomatic mission in London’s tony Knightsbridge area.

The relationship between Assange and his hosts eventually soured, and he was evicted from the embassy in April 2019. British police immediately arrested him for jumping bail in 2012.

Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed, but Assange remains in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, brought to court in a prison van throughout his extradition hearing.

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O.C. psychiatrist pleads guilty in prescription drug diversion scheme

SANTA ANA — A Santa Ana-based psychiatrist pleaded guilty Monday to participating in a scheme to disseminate prescriptions for opioids and other drugs for non-medical reasons.

Dr. Robert Tinoco Perez of Westminster, 56, signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors Jan. 28. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Santa Ana.

Perez could face at least 57 months behind bars, but his attorneys will get the chance to argue for less time, said defense attorney Kate Corrigan.

“He had seven family members there to support him” in court on Monday, Corrigan said.

“He had some rough times in his life that caused his judgment to be clouded and he’s looking forward to putting this behind him and getting his life back on track. He went from being a very successful, very reputable guy with a lot of patients who relied on him and loved him to somebody being charged. It’s a sad situation, a stunning fall from grace.”

From about 2017 through June 2018, Perez operated the scheme with co-defendant William Jason Plumley, 40, of Huntington Beach, who was sentenced in December to 70 months in prison, and others.

Perez issued prescriptions for oxycodone, hydrocodone and amphetamine salts to Plumley and others for recreational purposes, according to his plea agreement.

Perez, for instance, issued a prescription to one man in December 2017 for 60 pills of 30 mg Adderall, “knowing that the drugs would not be used by” the bogus patient, who sold the prescription to Plumley, according to the plea agreement.

Another time that month, he issued a prescription to the same man for 90 pills of 30 mg Roxicodone, and the man sold it to Plumley for about $700, according to the plea agreement.

Plumley asked Perez to issue prescriptions to another person on Dec. 26, 2017, at the defendant’s clinic in Santa Ana, according to the plea deal.

Perez told Plumley to fill out new patient paperwork, prompting Plumley to use a fake name. The doctor issued a prescription for 120 pills of 30 mg Roxicodone and another prescription for 60 pills of 30 mg Adderall in the fake patient’s name for $400, according to the plea agreement.

Perez issued similar types of prescriptions to bogus patients on numerous other occasions, prosecutors said.

Plumley admitted one federal count each of distribution of methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances on Oct. 9, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rosalind Wang.

Plumley also admitted he sold 26.94 grams of methamphetamine on Jan. 16, 2018 in a Super 8 Motel parking lot on Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa, according to his plea agreement.

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California ranked 3rd-most psychopathic state

Think your co-worker’s a little nuts? Maybe it’s because California is No. 3 for psychopathy!

The ranking craze comes to psychology. A new study by Ryan Murphy of Southern Methodist University ranked the collective mental health of the contiguous 48 U.S. states and the District of Columbia by psychopathy.

Psychopaths are the pushy folks who are heavy on dishonesty, manipulation, and risk-taking while lacking guilt, empathy, and attachment. And this trait — much debated in psychology circles as either a personality disorder or mental illness — is most prevalent in the District of Columbia. The report noted: “psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere.”

Next in psychopathic density came Connecticut, California, New Jersey, and a New York-Wyoming tie. Lowest psychopathy? West Virginia, then Vermont, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Mexico.

California’s laid-back vibe may not jibe with these results, but remember a “charm” of the psychopathic mind is convincing others of a positive image.

Now, other pundits can debate the social meaning of this scientific discovery — how crime and/or urbanization factor in. I’ll stick to the dollars and cents. Namely, how California’s economy — notably its workforce — may be shaped by psychopathy.

Apparently, certain work is very prone to having more psychopaths — perhaps due to skills required or the comfort of being with like minds. Demand for that kind of worker can bring more psychopaths to a region.

Let’s look at the Top 10 psychopathic-leaning jobs: CEO, lawyer, media, salesperson, surgeon, journalist, police officer, clergyperson, chef, and civil servant. How many of you are nodding your head and thinking “sounds about right” to yourself? (Yes, I noted my own craft in the list!)

Conversely, the report also listed professions where you’re least likely to find psychopathic habit. Primarily, people-pleasing trades or assistance work: care aide, nurse, therapist, craftsperson, beautician/stylist, charity worker, teacher, creative artist, doctor, and accountant.

So, I wondered how California fared with these jobs and what that says about the state’s workplace psyche. I tossed into my trusty spreadsheet some employment data — with my best match possible for the professional niches — for these on-the-job psychopathic extremes.

Ponder how California’s employment patterns compare with national norms. In the 10 heavily psychopathic-leaning jobs, California had 9 percent more workers than the usual. Meanwhile, the combined level of low-psychopathy jobs was roughly on par with U.S. averages.

When it comes to pay, my spreadsheet strongly hints the California psychopath is well-rewarded.

California’s psychopathic-leaning jobs had an average annual wage of $127,000 vs. $52,000 for those working in niches where the disorder was typically limited.

Look at six-figures professions. Five of the 10 heavily psychopathic-leaning jobs paid $100,000 or more annually — surgeon ($229,340); CEO ($222,950); lawyer ($168,200); media, defined by me as producers and directors ($118,830); and police officer ($100,090).

Just two from the list of low-psychopathy work paid above that threshold: doctor, defined by me as family and general practitioners ($196,180); and nurse ($102,700).

Even the lowest-paid of these psychopathic extremes favored those most likely to have the trait: Civil servants, defined by me as municipal clerks, got $47,270 vs. personal care aides earning $26,220.

You’ve probably heard that the gap between genius and madness can be small. In California, paychecks can’t seem to tell the difference.

ICYMI: In California, it’s not blue vs. red! Its homeowner vs. renter! (Even when it comes to Trump!) 

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Essay: How to be miserable, and survive

1. Devour literature, study, speak several languages and still come to the conclusion that the only way you will ever be loved – or even breathe properly – is to capture the attention of a man. An average accountant or nice, sexy surfer will never do, but a domineering and handsome man, like The Captain in “The Sound of Music,” for instance? Now he’s perfection.

2. Land The Captain by first capturing his eye. He’s already seen you in your Lululemons drenched in sweat at YogaWorks with a face almost as bare as your cupboards or possibly before your afternoon iced Yerba Mate at Kéan Coffee on Westcliff.

3. When he does ask you out, take the week off your J-O-B, if you have one, to prepare. If he is truly landable, this date is even worth another withdrawal from your Charles Schwab IRA.

4. Follow this closely: Start that juice cleanse. The Pressed Juicery makes the handiest one, and you can mix and match flavors for around $525. Day three and day six are the best days to do your colonics. If you’ve never had one, they’re not as scary as you’d imagine. Your stomach will become concave, and your hipbones will angle so beautifully – just watch. It will be the best $270 (plus tip) you’ve ever spent.

5. Remember, you are not taking off your clothes, but you’re going to want The Captain to want you more than anything in the world. In that week leading up to the first date, your exercise routine shouldn’t ease up even though you are living on kale juice and lemons. Power through. Every time your blood sugar starts to drop, think about the look on his face when you open your door, or how he’ll place his hand on your waist.

6. Be careful with your hair choices. There is a thin line between looking like a cheap blonde and looking like a natural blonde. It’s not unheard of to spend $650 getting your highlights done in LA, but you must so you don’t walk around as a “blorange” or, just as bad, an over-processed striped mess. Take the day off, make the drive and keep up the mantra, “He’s worth it.” When in doubt, it’s always chic to pull your hair up, out of your face. But no updos or elaborate swirly curls or “big” hair doused in hairspray. This is not Texas. Extensions generally are not a great idea. Those are more for after you’re married and you have more time on your hands. Remember, you never want to appear high-maintenance.

7. Look perfect, but in a nonchalant way. Look put together, but not like a package. Keep the makeup to a minimum, with Serge Lutens smutty black eyeliner or a matte red lip – choose one. You want to make sure he knows you’re malleable deep down inside, even though you put up this “I’m an independent, self-sufficient and worthwhile woman” front.

8. On the first date and all others after, don’t ask too many questions. Let me clarify: Ask him all kinds of questions and listen to him talk, but don’t ever probe into his past. These men have two sides, and you surely don’t want to delve into the one he’s not telling you about. The more you get to know him, the more red flags will fly like a Communist Party parade. This is a good time to become an ostrich.

9. After you’ve taken his breath away, marry him far too quickly and set up house in North Laguna. Your parents won’t mind. They’ll think you’ve succeeded at what they wanted for you: to marry rich.

10. Understand that looks are everything. And money. Looks and money
are everything. You can’t have one without the other.

11. Be good with numbers. This will help with: calorie counting, for food is to be rationed, not enjoyed; calculating the cost of Botox units while sitting in the room with the doctor; and anticipating the ebb and flow of your personal bank account. This account is much, much smaller than his, but it is surely the only one your beautiful frozen face is allowed to fret over.

12. Admit you want The Captain to take care of you. You don’t want to worry about petty things like the Cox cable bill. You don’t want to tell the doctor to stop at one syringe of Voluma when you really need three. You want to take two yoga classes a day, learn how to pull in your floating ribs during Pilates sessions and drive a Mercedes S-Class. You don’t want to look at price tags.

13. Understand he’s also cunning and manipulative and wants something as well. Deep down, you are honest to a fault, and he smells this above the notes of your Creed perfume. He’s already lying to you. Stay sharp. Smile. You paid a fortune for your teeth.

14. Never, under any circumstances, give him a hint of jealousy. It’s not worth your energy, it gives you wrinkles and it changes nothing. Even when you’re in his sports car and pop down the visor on the passenger side and see the mirror was left open. These are territorial marks left by someone he no longer fully cares about. Just keep this in the back of your mind.

15. You’ve done a fantastic job! Sure, you have massive amounts of anxiety. Panic attacks are part of the deal. That’s what psychiatrists are for.

16. Remember, you are not the only woman attracted to The Captain’s charm. He is a “catch” and you have been looking a little stressed and out of sorts lately, haven’t you? If you could, you’d use your running skills and be like Forrest Gump and never turn back. You just have nowhere to run back to. He knows this.

17. Have a beautiful baby and watch yourself change. Realize you’ve made fundamental errors. Everything you thought you were supposed to want pales in the face of this pure love you have for your child.

18. Bad things happen. Brutal things. Things that aren’t supposed to happen in these ZIP codes. Things you can never tell anyone. Put on your sunglasses and keep you mouth shut …

19. Until you can’t anymore.

20. Think of O.J. Simpson. Any time you think, “Surely he won’t …”  or “How could he have done … ?” it helps to have a reference point, a real event that happened in our lifetime.

21.Leave. Yes, you’ll have nothing of what you had before. No enviable address. You will no longer be Stella McCartney’s preferred client. It will be better than the alternative. You will be alive. You can make different choices. Better choices.

22. Do not have contact with The Captain. Ever. Ever. No matter what he promises. In some moments you will miss how things “used” to be. You are falling back into old conditioning. Count the days, count the hours, count the minutes if you must.

23. Love yourself. Love yourself? How trite. Every self-help book says this. But you have no idea what it means to love yourself. None. You struggle. You were not taught this skill. So here’s a trick: Find the most beautiful love songs or poems and, instead of attaching the sentiments to a man, direct them to yourself. Never – until now – tell a soul you do this, but it’s a valuable tool.

24. Don’t rush to “love” someone else.

25. Do not diminish where you have been, what you have done and what you have endured. You are a survivor. You are stronger than you think you are.

Need help or know someone who does?

Laura’s House is an Orange County nonprofit dedicated to ending the silence of domestic violence, no matter where it happens.

Call the 24-hour hotline: 866.498.1511 ::


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