Britney Spears Speaks to Court Directly at Conservatorship Hearing
Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle against her father, Jamie Spears, continues, but this time the singer is speaking out for herself, for the first time in years.
During Wednesday’s latest hearing for the conservatorship, Britney addressed the Los Angeles court directly, appearing remotely due to COVID-19 protocols. The 39-year-old singer has been under the legal conservatorship for 13 years.
Following some technical difficulties, the hearing began around 2:10 pm PT with Britney telling the court via phone call, “Good afternoon.”
“Ma’am, I’m not here to be anyone’s slave,” Britney was heard telling the court on the call, adding that while she was still performing, “I wasn’t good, I was GREAT.”
As many of Britney’s fans and supporters of the #FreeBritney movement are aware of, the pop star has been fighting for a while now to have Jamie removed from the conservatorship, with her legal team being adamant in court docs that she does not share her father’s vision “of a future in which she resumes performing and leaves the management of her estate completely to him as she did in the past.”
ET reported in September 2019 that a judge appointed Jodi Montgomery as Britney’s temporary conservator (of her person), with Jamie remaining conservator of the estate. In August 2020, Britney requested that Jodi — a professionally licensed conservator — be named the permanent conservator. As of today, Jamie still remains part of Britney’s conservatorship.
A judge ruled in February that Jamie and Bessemer Trust Company would now have equal power over Britney’s finances. Additionally, Jamie and Bessemer Trust have been ordered to work together on an investment plan and budget proposal for the future.
One of Britney’s attorneys, Samuel Ingham, shared in court back in April that his client “requested” that he “seek from the court a status hearing where she can address the court directly.” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny approved the request, scheduling a hearing on June 23 to allow the singer to speak out in some manner.
As ET previously reported, there’s been plenty of back-and-forth in this conservatorship battle over the past few years. Just last fall, Britney objected to her father’s petition to seal court proceedings and the reporter’s transcript related to the petition. In the court documents obtained by ET, Britney’s attorney stated that his client did not want information on her conservatorship to be sealed and, in fact, wanted to keep her fans informed.
“Britney strongly believes it is consistent not only with her personal best interests but also with good public policy generally that the decision to appoint a new conservator of her estate be made in as open and transparent a manner as possible,” the documents read. “The sealing motion is supposedly being brought by her father to ‘protect’ Britney’s interests, but she is adamantly opposed to it.”
“Although the sealing motion is supposedly for her ‘protection,’ Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret,” the documents continued. “The moment that James obtained from this Court the power to handle Britney’s affairs on her behalf, he surrendered a large measure of privacy as to the manner in which he exercises that power. Transparency is an essential component in order for this Court to earn and retain the public’s confidence with respect to protective proceedings like this one. In this case, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching.”
Britney first asked the court to appoint Bessemer Trust Company, N.A. to serve as conservator of her estate in August 2020, in a further attempt to remove her father as conservator. Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, has also backed Bessemer Trust Company to serve as conservator over her daughter’s estate.
“Britney is strongly opposed to her father continuing as the sole conservator of her estate,” the filing stated. “Rather, without in any way waiving her right to seek termination of this conservatorship in the future, she strongly prefers to have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in this role.”
The court documents obtained by ET at the time also stated that Britney’s conservatorship is “voluntary,” and that the singer does not have a developmental disability, nor is she a patient in or on leave of absence from a state institution under the jurisdiction of the California Department of State Hospitals or the California Department of Developmental Services.
Two months later, Britney had another small victory when the judge granted her request to add more attorneys to her legal team from Loeb & Loeb LLP. Previously, Ingham was the only court-appointed attorney on her team.
The “Toxic” singer was not present for that hearing, but her attorney, mother and father were all in attendance. Just prior to the hearing, Jamie’s legal team made one last attempt to block Britney from being granted permission to expand her legal counsel. In those docs, it was noted that Jamie and Bessemer Trust Company were trying to come to a solution. According to the legal papers, Jamie wasn’t opposed to the trust company becoming involved, so long as he remained co-conservator, which is what the judge ultimately ruled at the time.
In another hearing last fall, Jamie’s legal team requested that Britney herself, not just her attorneys, be present during such court proceedings. The singer’s lawyer argued at the time that it was not necessary for her to show up for such hearings.
“I am the exclusive source of information in public pleadings as to what my client wants,” Ingham told the court.
One of Jamie’s attorneys argued that, in the past, Ingham has brought up statements that Britney made that felt like hearsay. “Perhaps it would be best for Ms. Spears to appear so we all know what she’s thinking,” the lawyer said. “We are not trying to force Ms. Spears into court either.”
Ingham responded, “It’s clear counsel has a larger agenda here. …From my perspective it is self-evident that conservativees can’t file verified declarations because they lack the legal capacity to do so.”
Meanwhile, Britney’s mother has become even more involved in the legal case in recent months. After ET reported in March that Britney could have to pay nearly $2 million to her father’s lawyers, if the court approves, Lynne filed an objection contesting the legal attorney fees Jamie has requested.
Lynne objected to Jamie’s petition for approval and payment of over $890,000 to him and his attorneys, as well as related fees and expenses charged to the estate. She alleged in court docs that the fees and costs are improper, utterly excessive and not in good faith.
The law firm Holland & Knight, which represents Jamie, has since asked the court to overrule the objection filed by Lynne. Per the legal docs obtained by ET, the law firm asserts that Lynne’s objections are without merit and claims she is “not acting in the best interests of her daughter.”
Hear more in the video below.
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