Thirteen years into a conservatorship that has controlled virtually all aspects of her professional — and personal — life, pop star Britney Spears is scheduled Wednesday to address the judge overseeing her case, but it’s unclear exactly what she intends to say.
Without giving any specifics, Spears’ attorney, Samuel Ingham III, announced during an April 27 hearing that the 39-year-old singer had requested a chance to address the court.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny scheduled Wednesday’s hearing, which will be held with most participants, including Spears, appearing remotely.
The hearing comes amid the backdrop of a vocal, fan-orchestrated “#FreeBritney” movement pushing for an end to the conservatorship that has been in place since 2008, following a series of bizarre behavioral breakdowns, including one in which she shaved her head.
Her supporters have questioned the need for the conservatorship, which is usually used for people who are sick, elderly or unable to otherwise manage their own affairs. Spears has produced a series of hit albums and repeatedly toured and performed in Las Vegas over the past 13 years.
Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, and the Bessemer Trust Co. are the co-conservators of the singer’s estate, and they share management of her business affairs. Jamie Spears’ involvement in the conservatorship has been a lingering and growing point of contention, with Ingham repeatedly saying his client would be happier without her father involved.
Britney Spears and her father have had a roller-coaster relationship over the years, but attorneys for Jamie Spears have insisted that he has always done his best to look out for his daughter’s well-being.
Spears has long argued against her father’s involvement in the conservatorship. She hasn’t performed live since 2018, and her attorneys have said she won’t do so again while her father remains in control of her affairs, and profiting from her work.
But speculation has now risen that the singer could more aggressively push for an end to the conservatorship entirely. On Instagram Wednesday morning, Spears’ boyfriend, Sam Asghari, posted a photo of himself wearing a white T-shirt with “Free Britney” written on front.
On Tuesday, The New York Times — citing a review of confidential court records in the case — reported that Spears has been pushing for an end to the conservatorship as far back as 2014. A court investigator reported in 2016 that Spears believed the conservatorship had “become an oppressive and controlling tool against her” and maintained “too much control” over her life, to the point of rejecting her wish to re-stain the cabinets in her kitchen.
Vivian Lee Thoreen, an attorney for Jamie Spears, told People magazine earlier this year that in 13 years, Britney Spears has never asked her lawyer to file a formal request with the court to terminate the conservatorship, despite her right to do so.
Recent action in the case has focused more on the roles of Jamie Spears and the Bessemer Trust in the conservatorship over her estate.
According to The New York Times report, Spears’ attorney, Ingham, told the court in 2014 that the singer feared all of her concerns about her father’s control over her life were being swept under the rug.
In the 2016 report by the court investigator, Spears said she was “very angry” about the control being exerted over her life, saying she was unable to use her own credit card, was forced to undergo multiple drug tests each week and not permitted to make even minor financial decisions about changes to her home.
In 2019, Spears canceled a planned Las Vegas residency and checked into a mental health facility after revealing that her father was sick. According to The New York Times, Spears told the court that year she had been forced into a mental health facility against her will, suggesting she was being punished for standing up for herself. The singer also claimed she was once forced to perform while she had a 104-degree fever.
Last year, Ingham asked that Jamie Spears be suspended from his role as co-conservator. Judge Penny refused, but indicated she might reconsider in the future.
Hours before Wednesday’s court hearing, some fans of Spears began gathering outside the downtown courthouse, even though the singer was not expected to be there in person.
Spears herself has never directly responded to the movement, although fans have taken to closely analyzing her social media posts, looking for any signs she may be trying to communicate with her fans or convey signs of personal distress through subtle clues, such as the color or type of clothes she wears.
In an Instagram post last week, Spears answered some questions from fans, with one asking if she is ready to start performing again.
“I have no idea,” Spears said on the video clip. “I’m having fun right now. I’m in transition in my life and I’m enjoying myself.”
She wrote in a social media post this week that she and Asghari had taken a trip to Maui.
“I had a couple of embarrassing moments of living each day like it was my last!!! If you haven’t done that, I strongly suggest you do!!!,” she wrote.
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