Britney Spears' legal woes will remain in a California court after a judge rejected a civil rights challenge to take the case to a federal court.

Jon Eardley, claiming to represent the Toxic star, had filed a complaint in the US district court on her behalf, alleging that the temporary conservatorship of Britney's estate by her father James was a "violation of civil rights".

He had claimed that the singer retained him as an attorney on February 12th, but Los Angeles superior court commissioner Reva Goetz had ruled two weeks previously that Britney was incapable of hiring her own legal representation.

And now US district judge Philip Gutierrez has sent the case back to California state probate court and rejected the questionable claims of Eardley, a lawyer with practices, in New York; Washington, DC; and Whittier, California.

"Mr Eardley fails to explain why he can bring this claim for her in the first instance. He cannot," Gutierrez wrote in a three-page ruling on Tuesday.

"Mr Eardley had no authority to remove the case from state court. He is neither a party nor a defendant. While he claims to be Ms Spears' attorney, the probate court... found that she was incapable of retaining her own counsel."

The ruling represents a victory for the 26-year-old's father James and an attorney Andrew Wallet, who were named temporary co-conservators of her estate in late January following the pop star's admission to the psychiatric ward of the UCLA medical centre.

The singer has recently enjoyed her first visits in over a month with her two sons after agreeing a revision of a court order with her ex-husband Kevin Federline.

27/02/2008 09:12:06