Britney Spears to give rare public testimony in conservatorship battle
Britney Spears is expected to make a rare statement to the court Wednesday in her yearslong conservatorship case, with fans standing by with rapt attention in hopes to more clearly understand the singer’s feelings about her father’s control over her life.
Her statement to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny will be the pop star’s first public testimony about the case since scrutiny heightened in the wake of documentaries released this year. It’s unclear what Spears plans to say during the hearing, which she requested back in April.
Sam Asghari, who has been dating Britney Spears since 2016, posted a selfie wearing a “Free Britney” t-shirt to his Instagram Story in the hours before the hearing. Asghari previously criticized his girlfriend’s father in an Instagram Story in February, saying he had “zero respect” for the man.
“In my opinion, Jamie is a total d—,” Asghari, who is from Iran, said at the time. “I won’t be going into details because I’ve always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn’t come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom.”
James “Jamie” Spears has been assigned as his daughter’s conservator since 2008, shortly after Britney had a public breakdown. Jamie was temporarily made the sole executor of his daughter’s estate in 2019 after his co-conservator Andrew Wallet resigned.
A year after co-conservator Wallet resigned, Britney Spears’ attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, filed a petition to have Jamie Spears removed. Ingham said his client was afraid of her father and would rather have a professional handle her case.
Ingham also said Britney Spears would refuse to perform so long as her father is in charge of her affairs.
Penny denied the singer’s request but did assign a financial institution, Bessemer Trust, to be Jamie Spears’ co-conservator. She has also been assigned a conservator of the person, Jodi Montgomery, who handles Britney Spears’ non-financial needs.
Though much of Spears’ life has played out in the public eye, the court has sealed a number of documents from public record due to concerns about the singer’s privacy.
But Ingham said Spears was “vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret.” He filed a motion last year to open her case to the public.
Fans have latched on to recent developments in Spears’ case, starting a #FreeBritney campaign to end the conservatorship. Those who started the movement have expressed concerns that Jamie Spears has abused what was meant to be a temporary arrangement for his own personal gain.
Britney Spears’ brother, Bryan, addressed the #FreeBritney campaign last year, saying he was aware his sister “always” had the desire to end the conservatorship.
“It’s very frustrating to have,” he said on the “As Not Seen on TV” podcast. “Whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating.”
Jamie Spears and his team have vehemently denied the accusations that he has abused his position, repeatedly stating that he only has his daughter’s best interests at heart.
“Britney being safe and not being taken advantage of is his number one priority,” Vivian Thoreen, attorney for Jamie Spears, told NBC News in March.
But Britney Spears’ life and legal battles have continued to make national headlines and have been the subject of two documentaries this year. The first, “Framing Britney Spears,” was released by The New York Times on Hulu, followed by an hourlong BBC program called “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship.”
Both projects scrutinize the singer’s rise to fame, the media attention surrounding her personal life, and her current conservatorship battle, but without Spears’ participation. She has made few public comments about her personal views on her conservatorship case until now.
Spears did address the documentaries, however, on Instagram. In a post on her account, she said the documentaries were hypocritical for criticizing previous coverage of her life as invasive while amplifying some of the most “negative” aspects of her career.
“Why highlight the most negative and traumatizing times in my life from forever ago ???? I mean DAMN,” Spears wrote in Instagram post in May.
The singer also spoke up about her future in a video on her account last week, addressing fan questions about whether she would ever return to the stage. After years of maintaining a successful Las Vegas residency, Spears said in 2019 that she was canceling her upcoming shows and spent a month receiving in-patient mental health care.
“Am I going to take the stage again, will I ever take the stage again?” she said. “I have no idea. I’m having fun right now, I’m in transition in my life and I’m enjoying myself.”