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Britney Spears Freed From Her Conservatorship By Judge
“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."
Britney Spears’ conservatorship has been terminated and she is now free from its control.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny made the ruling on Friday, the New York Times reports; none of the parties objected. Spears was not in attendance at the hearing, in person or virtually.
"[The] court finds it was voluntary before and therefore there is no need to submit to capacity testing for termination,” the judge said in court, according to “Britney v. Spears” director Erin Lee Carr’s Twitter account. Spears’ attorney Mathew Rosengart, who was met with cheers on Friday as he entered the courtroom, had asked the judge to end the conservatorship without any medical evaluation of his client.
"Courts are using this case to pass legislation to ensure there is no more abuse of power upon people," he said in a press conference after the hearing. "If it can happen to Britney, it can happen to anyone."
Penny has presided over the case in recent years and was the overseeing judge when Spears, 39, first spoke out publicly against her conservatorship in June.
The judge ruled on Friday that John Zabel — a certified public accountant that Spears had nominated to become temporary conservator of her estate — will continue to have a managerial position to control the movement of the trust and health documents over to the trust.
Penny also agreed to review all of the requests for legal fees on Friday. There have been numerous attorneys and other individuals who have been involved in the case throughout the years, and Samuel D. Ingham III, Spears’s former court-appointed lawyer, and her former temporary conservator, Jodi Montgomery, are two of several requesting money.
Outside of the Stanley Mosk courthouse in Los Angeles where the hearing took place, Spears fans stood around a bright pink tree with #FreeBritney ribbon trimmings as they listened to others speak about their connections to conservatorships. One person called conservatorships a way to exploit people who "are different."
Libra, the daughter of 1960s psychedelic pop art legend Peter Max, claims her elderly father — who is currently in a conservatorship for dementia — is being isolated and abused by his guardians for financial profit. She said that, before the #FreeBritney movement, nobody would believe what was happening to her father because it sounded "insane,” but the movement has shone a light on the situation.
Conservatorships are typically employed for people who are deemed unable to make key decisions for themselves. Spears' conservatorship began in 2008 after she appeared to have a mental health crisis following extreme media scrutiny and paparazzi stalking.
Yet, the fact that Spears has never really stopped working in that time — including headlining an enormously successful multi-year Las Vegas residency — makes her conservatorship unusual. She has earned millions of dollars as a successful artist, all while her conservators and some relatives have claimed she is unable to take care of her own basic needs.
In late September, Penny suspended her dad, Jamie Spears, 69, as his daughter’s conservator of estate. Before 2019, Jamie Spears was also Britney Spears’ conservator of person.
Jamie Spears has recently done an about-face on the arrangement: While he had long maintained that the conservatorship was absolutely necessary, his more recent stance was that it needs to be ended quickly and quietly. His legal team had requested the arrangement be terminated immediately, ahead of the Friday hearing.
Rosengart has expressed suspicion regarding Jamie’ Spears' change of heart, and argued in court in September that the star's father's interest in terminating the arrangement is motivated by a desire to dodge any accountability for any alleged mishandling of her estate or abuse of his role. (Penny approved Rosengart’s request for court review and termination of the conservatorship within 30 to 45 days at the time.)
Rosengart then transferred the conservator of estate role from Jamie Spears to a temporary conservatorship to allow Rosengart to investigate the father's behavior during his 13 years of involvement in the conservatorship.
In the weeks leading up to the hearing on Friday, Rosengart has requested that Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group — which was run by Britney Spears’ former manager Lou Taylor — provide all communications and documents of agreements between Jamie Spears and the company.
The New York Times has reported that any possible investigation into Tri Star or Jamie Spears may be deferred to later hearings. A hearing regarding financial and accounting matters related to the conservatorship has been scheduled for Dec. 8.
“This week is gonna be very interesting for me!!!” Spears had posted on her Instagram on Monday along with a giggling emoji. She has also recently been vocal about her anger toward her family in social media posts. In June, she noted that her family has not supported her and said that she feels her father should be in jail.
Carr called Friday’s hearing “one of the most pivotal dates in Britney's entire court case” on Twitter, prior to the hearing.
The director noted that back in 2019, the idea of Spears "getting out of the conservatorship seemed so far away, if not impossible."
"Britney continues to inspire people, not just through her perseverance during this legal battle but also with her talent and artistry,” she said. "Britney has survived in a system designed to make her submit." While she specified that this situation is "singular" to the star's life and experience, the director added that "being silenced however is a universal for many people around the world."
As news of the decision broke, people around the courthouse erupted into cheering.
“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," said Rosengart.