Britney’s free: Spears’ conservatorship is officially over
Britney Spears is finally free.
A Los Angeles judge Friday agreed to terminate the pop megastar’s extraordinary legal conservatorship — after a sensational lengthy battle over whether the singer was mentally sound enough to control her $60 million estate.
The fight had pitted the former Mouseketeer-turned-pop princess against her family, primarily her father Jamie Spears, who had been appointed her conservator in 2008.
“The court finds the conservatorship of the person and estate of Britney Spears is no longer required,” Judge Brenda Penny announced during the afternoon hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Britney took to Instagram soon after the ruling to say it was the “best day ever.
“Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy !!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!!,” the 39-year-old pop icon wrote — adding the new hashtag “#FreedBritney.”
Throngs of supporters cheered and danced as they heard the news outside the courthouse.
“This is a monumental day for Britney Spears,’’ her lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, told reporters amid the celebration.
“I’m so proud of [Britney], I thank her, I thank her for her courage and poise and power.”
But he added, “It’s also a somber day for me, for Britney, and I think for a lot of us who have been following conservatorships and how they operate.
“She helped shine a light on not only this conservatorship, which was corrupted by James P. Spears, but she helped shine a light on conservatorships and guardianships from coast to coast.”
Britney Spears and fiance Sam Ashgari wear #FreeBritney t-shirts ahead of a court hearing on her conservatorship on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.
Britney Spears and fiancee Sam Ashgari wear #FreeBritney T-shirts ahead of a court hearing on her conservatorship on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.
Friday’s win for Spears comes after her dad was booted from his role as her conservator in late September, with even Penny saying at the time that having him at the helm of his daughter’s estate was “untenable” and reflective of a “toxic environment.”
A certified public accountant, John Zabel, took over as Spears’ conservator Sept. 29. Zabel will now need to start the process of disengaging the conservatorship, Penny said.
Over the summer, the 39-year-old Grammy winner broke her silence on the conservatorship for the first time in 13 years and gave two days of dramatic court testimony.
She called the legal arrangement “abusive” and said it had been used to “ruin” her life.
“I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK, and I’m happy. It’s a lie,’’ Spears said during the explosive June hearing as she called for her father to be jailed.
Britney Spears’ father, Jamie Spears
Britney’s dad, Jamie Spears, had been booted from his role as conservator in late September.
AFP via Getty Images
“I thought just maybe if I said that enough, maybe I might become happy because 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.
“It’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end,” Britney said.
Britney’s fiance, Sam Ashgari, shared a video early Friday of them both smiling in “#FreeBritney” T-shirts, and earlier this week, Spears wrote about the upcoming hearing in an Instagram post.
“This week is gonna be very interesting for me!” wrote Spears, who wasn’t present for the hearing, in the post. “I haven’t prayed for something more in my life!”
Spears’ parents first moved to implement the conservatorship, which prevented the “Toxic” crooner from having any control over her personal and financial affairs, during her high-profile breakdown and mental-health crisis in 2008.
Her parents have since agreed the arrangement was no longer necessary. In September, Jamie Spears moved to terminate the conservatorship before he was booted.
Rosengart fought against the move — although only because he said the beleaguered dad had agreed to step aside just to avoid getting deposed and having to hand over years of revealing documents in the case.
Spears’ father has denied any wrongdoing and says he always had his daughter’s best interests at heart.
During Friday’s hearing, Rosengart reiterated arguments as to why the 13-year conservatorship must immediately end without his client needing to be evaluated again.
“After more than a decade, the time has come for the conservatorship to be terminated permanently,” Rosengart said to the judge.
Jodi Montgomery, the court-appointed conservator who oversaw Britney’s health care, mental health plans and other personal matters starting in 2019, filed a “termination” plan outlining how the singer would transition out of the conservatorship, said Montgomery’s attorney, Lauriann Wright.
Wright said the fiduciary would still be available to help Britney even after the conservatorship is terminated.
“Ms. Montgomery will stay in her life,” Wright told the judge. “She will be there for her. There is no reason why the conservatorship can’t be terminated and Ms. Spears can have a safe and happy life.”
Lynne and Jamie Spears participated in Friday’s hearing, but didn’t address the judge. Britney was not present.
While planning to end the conservatorship, Rosengart’s goal has been to expose the alleged abuse, and possible financial mismanagement, that Spears endured under her father’s control.
The lawyer, a former federal prosecutor, said Friday that any continuance of that probe would be up to his client.
“Many people have asked about whether we will continue to investigate Mr. Spears,’’ Rosengart said. “The answer ultimately is up to my client Britney, and I’m not going to get into it beyond that.
“This conservatorship was corrupted by James P. Spears,’’ the lawyer said. “James P. Spears, as we all know, from public records … took anywhere from $3 to 4 million from the estate.
“He took a salary from the estate. He took a percentage of his daughter’s earnings from Las Vegas and otherwise.”
Rosengart said Spears’ former business manager, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group — which has been accused of recording her phone calls, browser history and text messages — is trying to suppress information that Britney wants.
“We were forced to issue two subpoenas to Tri Star Sports and Entertainment because they wouldn’t voluntarily cooperate with Britney Spears,’’ the lawyer said.
“That is why we issued subpoenas to Tri Star. Rather than voluntarily complying with those subpoenas, Tri Star refused, and they filed a motion to suppress those subpoenas and suppress information that Britney Spears has requested.
“The most notable questions that we’ve asked on behalf of Britney of Tri Star, is the following very simple question: How much money did you take from the estate? How much money did you receive from the estate?
“Tri Star — and I’m not drawing any conclusions right now, but you can draw your own inference — has refused to answer that question.”
Meanwhile, Britney’s fans were beyond overjoyed at the judge’s decision.
Jason Rivera, 31, of Connecticut waved a “FREE BRITNEY” flag alongside his friend, James Barry, 39.
“It was overwhelming. … It was a sea of screams and cries,” Rivera said of the crowd’s reaction to the news. “It almost felt surreal.
“I’m not a public crier, so I was choking back tears. It was so awesome to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Joshua Duran, 29, of Palmdale, Calif., who came to the celebration rally with his mom, Christina Molina, 51, of Los Angeles, called the court’s decision “like a huge stress off everyone’s back.
“You could hear it in the crowd. … Everyone was screaming for joy,” he said. “It’s a huge victory for Britney, and it’s a huge victory for everyone else who are in conservatorships as well.”