Britney Spears is finally free from the conservatorship that has controlled her for the past thirteen years. Spears’ personal life, work, finances, and medical decisions have been controlled by the court-ordered guardianship for all these years. However, on November 12, a Los Angeles judge ruled to terminate the conservatorship over both her person and estate.
The decision comes four months after the pop icon alleged in a shocking public testimony in Los Angeles on June 23, that the conservatorship was abusive. As she publicly addressed a court, Britney told the judge that she was “traumatized”.
She said she was held against her will, with all of her rights stripped away by her conservators, including her father, Jamie Spears, stating that she had been placed on lithium, forced to perform, and denied the ability to remove a forcibly implanted IUD. “I just want my life back,” the singer pleaded and her speech further rallied proponents of the #FreeBritney movement, who had long been suspicious of the arrangement.
Following this testimony which was heard by many around the world, Britney was finally granted the ability to hire her own lawyer, former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart and that is when everything started to change in late September.
A series of legal proceedings eventually resulted or culminated in the September removal of Spears’s father Jamie from his position as the conservator of her $60 million (INR 4463700000.00) estate. Britney has also has expressed anger against him, her mother – Lynne Spears, and her sister- Jamie Lynn Spears for their alleged complicity. This conservatorship that has controlled Britney for the last thirteen years was ultimately terminated on November 12.
However, now the pop star is facing a struggle with Jamie Spears as well as the former business manager of her estate, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group. It was hired by Spears’ father and has been accused of running an intense surveillance apparatus that tracked Britney’s communications and bugged her home and Rosengart has publicly pledged to fully investigate the conduct of Spears’ father and Tri Star.
As per Variety, recent court documents reveal contentious communications between Rosengart and Tri Star. It argued there is no evidence of “extrinsic fraud” that would require Spears’ legal team to subpoena accounting documents. Rosengart has accused the company of “stonewalling” his attempts to obtain information for his client, according to Variety. He says his firm was forced to issue two subpoenas because they would not voluntarily cooperate with Spears.
After the termination hearing (outside the courthouse), Rosengart said Tri Star has “refused to answer” the question of how much money it took from the estate and he asked during a press conference: “Does Tri Star treat all their clients this way, or is it just Britney Spears?” “She has been bullied for a decade,” Rosengart added.
Rosengart also continued his calls against Spears’ father. He told fans and reporters outside of court, “This conservatorship was corrupted by James P. Spears.” Rosengart stated, citing public records, that James Spears has taken up to $4 million (INR 297867000.00) from his client’s estate. Rosengart also raised questions earlier in the case in a court document regarding whether Britney’s father had “dissipated” his client’s estimated $60 million (INR 4468005000.00) fortune.
Spears’ father has continuously denied all allegations of wrongdoing, as per Variety. Prior to ridding him of the conservatorship altogether, Rosengart and his team methodically strategized to suspend her father so he would be unable to evade culpability. Therefore, James Spears is now required to turn over his files, including client-attorney communications but Rosengart said Britney’s father has “refused to cooperate” with his requests to appear for deposition under oath.
“They have not responded to one document request. They have not responded to one interrogatory,” Rosengart said at the courthouse. “A cross-examination of an individual or witness in a deposition, any lawyer will tell you, is how you find the truth. I’m looking forward to that deposition — why he has not appeared, why he is ducking the deposition is something he and his counsel will have to answer.”
According to Variety, it appears the singer’s legal team is moving full steam ahead and Rosengart has “beefed up his team with attorney Kyle Freeny, one of 19 prosecutors selected by Robert Mueller for his investigation into then-President Donald Trump.”
And according to Spears’ own words, she is not interested in holding back as she wrote in an Instagram caption, “It still blows my mind every day I wake up how my family and the conservatorship were able to do what they did to me.” The pop star wrote that she is used to “keeping peace for the family” and “keeping my mouth shut … but not this time … I have NOT FORGOTTEN.”
Two more hearings are set for December 8 and January 19, which will deal with financial and accounting matters. Legal experts have explained to Variety that the “conservatorship saga is far from over”.
“I’d be shocked if this takes less than a year to clean this all up,” said attorney Sarah Wentz. Wentz is a partner at the firm Fox Rothschild, who represents high-profile individuals and specializes in conservatorships, guardianships, and estates. But Sarah Wentz has never worked with Spears and has no affiliation to the case.
“What am I going to do now that the conservatorship is over with?” Spears said in an Instagram video. “Well, let’s see, I have been in the conservatorship for 13 years. That’s a really long time to be in a situation you don’t want to be in.”
Speaking more freely than she has recently, Spears said she is “not here to be a victim.” She wants to be an advocate for others as during her conservatorship she was not allowed to drive a car. Furthermore, she did not have access to her own money.
“I’m just grateful honestly for each day and being able to have the keys to my car and being able to be independent for a woman and owning an ATM card, seeing cash for the first time, being able to buy candles,” she added. “It’s the little things for us women, but it makes a huge difference, and I’m grateful for that. It’s nice. It’s really nice.”
Rosengart explained in court that Britney has a “safety net” to ensure an “orderly transition” into the real world. This means the pop star will continue to work with consultants who will look out for her financial and personal well-being.
Accountant John Zabel took over for Spears’ father when he was ousted, as per Variety. Zabel will have “limited and administrative power” to wind up his responsibilities in helping Britney manage her estate.
Jodi Montgomery, who served as Spears’ temporary conservator, will also continue to work with the singer and while a termination plan was filed under seal, an individual close to the case tells Variety that details are still being ironed out. However, Jodi has a positive relationship with the star and will assist with any day-to-day personal needs. These range from coordinating travel to doctor’s appointments.
As Britney Spears is an iconic artist and one of the most successful recording artists in pop history, many are wondering about the star’s potential return to the stage and Rosengart did comment on it.
“Whether Britney performs again will be up to Britney, at the right time,” Rosengart said in response to reporters at the courthouse.
The singer has shared her desire to have another baby and marry her fiancé, actor Sam Asghari and if the #FreeBritney movement’s long-standing support is any indication, her fans will wait for new music until whenever Spears may be ready.
“We support you, Britney, now and forever. That’s it,” Leanne Simmons, a fan and an activist who helped organize the Free Britney L.A. group, tells Variety. “We fought this fight to get her the ability to speak for herself and more importantly, to be free from the conservatorship. Now, it’s Britney’s world, and she can do whatever the hell she wants.”