A judge ruled on Friday to terminate the conservatorship of Britney Spears, nearly 14 years after a Los Angeles court determined that the pop sensation was unable to care for herself, depriving her of control over nearly every aspect of her life. Ms. Spears claimed that the conservatorship had traumatised and exploited her for years.
“The conservatorship of Britney Jean Spears’ person and estate is no longer needed,” Judge Brenda Penny ruled, less than half an hour into the short hearing, which lasted less than half an hour. “The conservatorship has been ended as of this date.”
The judge went on to say that additional psychiatric evaluations of Ms. Spears were not required since the conservatorship was legally voluntary on the part of the court. Judge Penny, on the other hand, said that the existing conservator of the singer’s estate will continue to attempt to resolve any continuing financial difficulties that may arise as a result of the case.
Ms. Spears’ father, James P. Spears, sometimes known as Jamie, originally petitioned the court for power over his adult daughter’s life and money in early 2008, noting her very public mental health difficulties and suspected drug misuse while battling for custody of their children. After beginning the year as a temporary conservatorship, the decision was taken to make it permanent.
Britney Spears has been under conservatorship since 2005, and it has governed both her lucrative show business career and the day-to-day reality of the woman at its centre, providing for her medical care and personal life while enabling her to start work as a lucrative performer in Las Vegas and other arenas.
The setup, which was once referred to as a “hybrid business model” by the former estate conservator who worked alongside Ms. Spears’s father for years, entered into professional contracts on her behalf, vetted her friends, visitors, and boyfriends, dictated her travel, and recorded every purchase she made, down to a Starbucks drink.
It also drew questions from Ms. Spears’s growing number of ardent fans and outside observers, who questioned why an active global celebrity and working musician was in a situation typically reserved for people who are unable to provide for their own food, clothing, and shelter, as was the case with Ms. Spears.
She claimed that the conservatorship’s power went too far, saying that she was compelled to take medicine, work against her will, and use a birth control device during her first prolonged public remarks on the conservatorship during a court hearing this summer. She demanded that they be probed and imprisoned, claiming that Mr. Spears, 69, was “the one who sanctioned everything.”
On Friday, the singer was conspicuously absent from the courtroom. Her fiancé, Sam Asghari, shared a video on Instagram ahead of the hearing in which she was seen wearing a T-shirt with the words #FREEBRITNEY over the slogan “It’s a human rights movement,” with her song “Work Bitch” playing in the background.
Mathew S. Rosengart, a lawyer representing Ms. Spears, said the singer’s recent statements against the conservatorship were repeated in court on Friday at the singer’s request, according to Rosengart.
The conservatorship, which her father and his attorneys had repeatedly described as both necessary and voluntary, came crashing down on June 23 when Ms. Spears spoke up about it extensively in public for the first time since she was placed there.
In response to her request to speak directly to the judge, Ms. Spears made an unexpected and emotional phone call into court, where she spoke for more than 20 minutes. Because of Covid-19 procedures, a live feed of Ms. Spears’ June hearing was made available online, although the vast bulk of the case’s previous hearings had taken place behind closed doors, with Ms. Spears only appearing seldom and speaking only in private when she did. Ms. Spears was adamant that her statements be heard by everyone who was tuned in to the show.
According to the investigator’s description of the discussion, Ms. Spears complained to a court investigator in 2016 that the arrangement was oppressive and that she was “sick of being taken advantage of.” But despite her complicated finances, vulnerability to undue influence, and “intermittent” drug troubles, the investigator’s report determined that the conservatorship was in Ms. Spears’s best interests, even as it advocated for “a route to independence” and ultimately, termination.
During a court hearing, lawyers for Tri Star asserted that the company’s employees had no control over Ms. Spears’s security protocols, which included hidden electronic surveillance, and that the firm’s financial dealings with the estate had been approved by the court prior to the firm’s resignation from the conservatorship last year.
Over the conservatorship processes, the millions of dollars Ms. Spears acquired during her career will continue to be scrutinised in minute detail as the numerous attorneys and other professionals who have been engaged in those proceedings seek clearance from the court to be compensated.