Britney Spears to make rare remarks in conservatorship hearing


In the most anticipated hearing in the case in years, Britney Spears is addressing a judge overseeing a hearing into the conservatorship that has controlled the pop star’s money and affairs since 2008.

Since Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny did not make a last-minute decision Wednesday to seal the proceedings, Spears’ words will be heard in open court for the first time in the 13-year conservatorship.

Several dozen fans from the so-called #FreeBritney movement gathered outside the courthouse before the hearing, holding signs that read “Free Britney now!” and “Get out of Britney’s life!”

Jennifer Preston, 33, crossed the country from Richmond, Va., to be present outside the hearing because, she says, “I’m a mom and I’m a fan.”

“We’re here to hear what she has to say,” Preston said. “She’s been treated like a child for the last 13 years; she hasn’t had control of her life or her finances, even though she’s clearly capable enough to do those things.”

A protestor holds a sign in support of pop star Britney Spears Wednesday, ahead of a hearing about the conservatorship of her finances in Los Angeles. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Spears, who is scheduled to take part remotely, asked for the hearing so she could address the court directly.

Her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, made the request at an April 28 hearing. He gave no indication of what the pop star wants to say.

But in recent court filings, Spears has sought a greater say over who runs the conservatorship, and has asked that her father, who had extensive power over her life and money for most of its existence, be removed.

WATCH | #FreeBritney movement supports Britney Spears’s fight for autonomy:

Britney Spears is trying to change the terms of her 12-year conservatorship. She is pushing to have her father removed as the sole conservator of her affairs, a role that gives him major powers over the pop star. 2:01

Spears said through Ingham that she fears her father, James Spears, and would not end a two and a half year pause on her career as long as he has control over it.

The judge declined to remove James Spears entirely, though he now plays a smaller role. He serves as co-conservator of his daughter’s finances along with estate management firm the Bessemer Trust. In 2019, he relinquished his role as conservator over his daughter’s life choices to a court-appointed professional.

Last week, Britney Spears said on Instagram that she isn’t sure if she will ever perform live again.

“I have no idea,” she said, answering a fan who asked when she planned to take the stage. “I’m having fun right now. I’m in a transition in my life and I’m enjoying myself. So that’s it.”

A person protests in support of pop star Britney Spears on the day of a conservatorship case hearing at Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 23, 2021. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

First public address by Spears

Britney Spears has spoken in court about the conservatorship before, but the courtroom was always cleared and transcripts sealed.

The last time she was known to have addressed the judge was in May 2019.

Spears has since requested greater transparency from the court, and Penny has allowed far more to remain public.

The singer has never asked the court to end the conservatorship entirely, though she has emphasized in documents that she reserves the right to do so at any time.

It was put in place as she underwent a mental health crisis in 2008. She has credited it with saving her from financial ruin and keeping up her status as a top pop star.

Her father and his attorneys have emphasized that she and her fortune, which court records put at more than $50 million US, remain vulnerable to fraud and manipulation. Under the law, the burden would be on Spears to prove she is competent to be released and free to make her own choices.

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