She drives through Beverly Hills followed by photographers and news helicopters

By Mike Fleeman
Updated February 06, 2008 04:00 PM
Credit: INF

Britney Spears left the psych ward at UCLA Medical Center on Wednesday and later was chased by paparazzi and news helicopters as she traveled to a hotel and a lawyer’s office.

Spears, 26, spent seven days at the hospital even though her psychiatrist had extended her stay Sunday to a 14-day involuntary hold. It was her second early departure from an involuntary mental-evaluation hospitalization.

Although her father Jamie Spears had been granted temporary legal control of her affairs, Spears appeared to use the hours after her discharge to get her own life in order, accompanied much of the time not by her dad, but by her paparazzi pal Adnan Ghalib.

With local news helicopters hovering and photographers swarming her black Mercedes at every traffic stop, she first drove to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where, according to Internet news reports, she met with her business manager.

(Also, in a bizarre scene in the lobby, she ran into California’s First Lady, Maria Shriver, and they exchanged greetings, Shriver’s rep tells PEOPLE.)

Two hours later, she was driven away by Ghalib – with photographers in hot pursuit – to the office of estate lawyer Adam Streisand in Century City. Streisand had claimed to represent Spears, but was rebuffed by the court after another lawyer said Spears wasn’t mentally sound enough to hire Streisand.

Not seen anywhere Wednesday was her other friend, Sam Lutfi, who had been slapped with a restraining order after Spears’s mother claimed he drugged and verbally abused Britney.

A Quiet Release from the Hospital

The latest drama for Spears began quietly enough. The Los Angeles Times reports that Spears left UCLA Medical Center without fanfare Wednesday afternoon, with the help of a private security detail.

She had been taken by ambulance to the hospital on Jan. 31 and was initially held under a 72-hour psychiatric hold, which was extended to 14 days. Only her psychiatrist would’ve had the authority to deem the singer well enough to be released, legal experts say.

It’s unclear whether the singer will continue with outpatient treatment.

Her father was granted temporary control over his daughter’s affairs on Friday (though it did not include control of her psychiatric treatment). His conservatorship was extended this week to Feb. 14 – following a battle in court over who’s best suited to look after the troubled pop star. More court documents were released Tuesday, revealing Jamie Spears’s conversations with Britney in the hospital.

Spears’s meeting with Shriver was first reported by Extra.

• Additional reporting by ELAINE ARADILLAS and MARY MARGARET