britney-spears-free-from-conservatorship,-judge-rules

Britney Spears is free from her conservatorship after a judge ruled in favor of termination Friday, ending the 13-year arrangement that has legally stripped the pop star from making her own personal and financial decisions. 

“The court finds the conservatorship of Britney Jean Spears is no longer required,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny ruled. Effective today, the conservatorship for Britney Spears’ person and estate are terminated.

The entire hearing took just 31 minutes. Britney Spears herself did not make a phone or video appearance. Her attorney Mathew Rosengart cited her statements from her previous June hearing, in which she requested to terminate the conservatorship without a mental health evaluation.

Speaking outside the courthouse on Friday, Rosengart addressed Britney Spears’ future.

“What’s next for Britney, and this is the first time this could be said for about a decade, is up to one person: Britney,” Rosengart said. “I will say that Britney has been put into a position through our collaboration and the work of our law firm to succeed … As of today, Britney is a free woman, she’s an independent woman.”

Britney Spears tweeted a video from the celebration outside the courthouse, writing, “Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy.”

John Zabel, who was appointed temporary co-conservator of Britney Spears’ estate in following her father’s suspension, will retain administrative powers to assist in the transfer process. He will be allowed to execute estate planning documents and the transfer of assets. No parties objected to his continued role.

A hearing scheduled for Jan. 18 will finalize the transfer of assets and any other pending financial items.

Britney Spears informally asked the court to terminate her conservatorship during rare testimony June 23, during which she described her situation as abusive and traumatizing. Rosengart filed her official request for termination at the end of October, a month after her father, James “Jamie” Spears, was suspended as conservator.  

Jamie Spears first filed a petition to terminate the conservatorship in September, after Rosengart asked the court to remove him from Britney Spears’ case. Rosengart accused Jamie Spears of profiting off his daughter and mismanaging her finances through his role as conservator over the past 13 years.

Rosengart also accused Jamie Spears of reversing course and filing for termination, just weeks after telling the court he would resign following an orderly transition, to avoid a deposition.

“He wants to avoid being deposed under oath. He wants to avoid responding to extensive discovery,” Rosengart said during the September hearing. “And he wants to avoid his obligation as a fiduciary, once he is suspended, to turn over his files to not a permanent conservator of the estate, but a temporary, short-term conservator of the estate.”

Penny suspended Jamie Spears and replaced him with a temporary conservator, with the understanding that the singer’s attorney would file to terminate within the next 30 to 45 days.

Supporters celebrate outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Mike Blake / Reuters

Rosengart spoke outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse following the testimony that raised public concern, including being denied the right to remove her intrauterine device in order to have more children and being forced into a $60,000-a-month treatment facility by her father.

“I haven’t done anything in the world to deserve this treatment. It’s not OK to force me to do anything I don’t want to do,” she told Penny.

She later told the judge at a following hearing that she was “extremely scared” of her father and wanted to charge him with abuse. Britney Spears accused her family of having done little to help or support her, accusing her father of enjoying his power over her and restricting access to her children as a means of coercion.

The New York Times reported in September that Jamie Spears allegedly had recording devices planted in his daughter’s home and monitored privileged communications with her previous attorney. Rosengart has asked for all documents and communications involving electronic monitoring and recording devices in Britney Spears’ home as part of a discovery demand following Jamie Spears’ suspension. 

Representatives for Jamie Spears have repeatedly denied abuse allegations and said that he has only acted in his daughter’s best interest. Jamie Spears’ former attorney, Vivian Thoreen, said in September that her client “does not answer to the court of public opinion; he answers to a court of law, the probate court.”

“All of his actions were well within the parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court,” she said. “His actions were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed attorney, and/or the court.”

Following Friday’s hearing, Rosengart declined to comment in detail but added, “Anybody who saw the New York Times documentary … knows that the conduct as alleged by the Times and as corroborated by the Times deserves investigation.”

The star’s case has been put under intense scrutiny in recent years as fans launched a #FreeBritney campaign to end the conservatorship. Those who started the movement have expressed concerns that Jamie Spears has abused what was meant to be a temporary arrangement for his own personal gain. 

Britney Spears’ life and legal battles have continued to make national headlines and have been the subject of multiple documentaries this year.

The projects have scrutinized the singer’s rise to fame, the media attention surrounding her personal life and her current conservatorship battle but without Spears’ participation.

Until her June 23 testimony, Britney Spears had remained relatively silent over her own case. She explained to the court, and later to fans, that she had been pretending to be happy publicly while being miserable in her private life. 

She told Penny during the testimony that she felt silenced for years by the people around her and that she wanted to finally tell the world what she has experienced rather than let others speak for her.

“They’re telling me lies about me openly. Even my family, they do interviews to anyone they want on news stations, my own family doing interviews, and talking about the situation and making me feel so stupid,” Britney Spears said. “And I can’t say one thing.” 

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