Britney Spears Asks Court to End 'Abusive' Conservatorship: 'I Just Want My Life Back'
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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 recounting her experience with the conservatorship in a testimony that lasted for over 20 minutes.
"Ma'am, I'm not here to be anyone's slave," Britney said, adding that while she was still performing, "I wasn't good, I was great."
"I'm so angry I can't sleep, and I am depressed," she said of her current state. "I want to be heard ... I want changes and I want changes going forward. I deserve changes."
Britney -- who said "the people who did this to me should not get away...so easily" -- told the court, "I just want my life back, it's been 13 years and it's enough."
"It's enough and it makes no sense at all ... I'm done," she said, accusing her father and those involved in her conservatorship of "criminal" behavior. "I want to sue my family to be totally honest with you."
Britney claimed that after her 2018 tour, her medication was adjusted on her after a disagreement at rehearsals and she was put on lithium. Shortly after that, she says her father sent her to rehab against her will.
"I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it. The control he had over someone as powerful as me, he loved the control to hurt his own daughter. 100,000%, he loved it," she claimed, alleging she had no privacy at the facility and was forced to give "eight gallons of blood a week."
"Two years later, after I've lied and told the whole world I'm OK, I'm happy; it's a lie," she said.
"I've been in denial. I've been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, fake it till you make it, but now I'm telling you the truth, OK. I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm so angry, it's insane and I'm depressed. I cry every day," Britney continued.
Britney said she was speaking out on Wednesday to help the judge "understand the depth and the degree and the damage that [those in charge of the conservatorship] did to me back then."
Britney's biggest request to the court was "to end the conservatorship without having to be evaluated." She also requested to see a therapist at her home, as she called having to publicly attend sessions under the eye of paparazzi "embarrassing and demoralizing."
"I want to meet with a therapist once a week, not twice a week, and I want him to come to my home. Because I actually know I do need a little therapy," she said. And I would like to move progressively forward."
At the end of her testimony, Britney concluded, "Basically this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good. I deserve to have a life. I deserve to have a two to three year break and just, you know, do what I want to do."
"I wish I could stay with you on the phone forever," she told the judge, "because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden I hear all these no's...I feel ganged up on and I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone. And I'm tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, any of those things and more so. And that's all I wanted to say to you and thank you so much for letting me speak to you today."
After a brief recess, Jamie's attorney relayed a statement on his behalf, "He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."
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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