Updated: Sep 7, 2021
You may have seen the #FreeBritney campaign floating around social media the last few years and wondered what it was about. Britney Spears’ next hearing is due to take place on the 23rd June. This blog post will give you the low down on Britney’s hearing and why it is important.
What is a Conservatorship?
Talking on a very basic level, it is when a legal guardian takes control over someone's finances, estate and personal aspects due to physical or mental limitations. Our beloved Britney hasn’t had control over her finances since her breakdown, over 12 years ago which resulted in her being hospitalised and going to rehab. For 12 years her father, Jamie Spears has had control over her finances and personal life alongside Bessemer Trust.
The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears reawakened interest in the pop icon’s legal battle with her father having created more attention for the #FreeBritney campaign. Under the conservatorship she cannot enter contracts for herself because she is legally not her own person which has caused uproar in the Britney fan club.
In November, a judge ruled against removing Jamie Spears from his position as conservator but instead appointed independent firm Bessemer Trust as co-conservator. A judge ruled to extend Spears’ conservatorship to 3rd September 2021.
Britney Spears spoke to her lawyer, who addressed the court on her behalf, declaring she was scared of her father and wouldn’t perform until he was no longer in charge of her life. She last performed over 2 years ago, we are all desperate to see her live again, or at least see her living her best life! Her father stepped down from being her health conservator in 2019 due to his own health issues, however, wants to return to being sole conservator. Britney has voiced that temporary conservator, Jodi Montgomery is her preferred choice and opposes her father stepping into the role again.
Her mother, Lynne Spears has questioned Jamie Spears involvement with Britney’s financial affairs as he claimed $890,000 in legal fees which her own personal lawyers have called ‘utterly excessive’. Jamie Spears’ lawyers have responded stating that “She has not been involved in her daughter’s conservatorship until very recently, and now she is raising objections to feeds related to matters that she has no knowledge of.”
Ingham, Britney’s lawyer has requested a hearing to be scheduled on the 23rd June so that she can ‘address the court directly’ about her conservatorship.
Why this hearing is important
Unlike previous hearings, Britney is herself talking to the court rather than through an advocate. Of course, we don’t know the specifics of what Britney is going to say, but we do know that it is regarding her conservatorship. It’s important that Britney has been allowed to speak directly to the court, as it gives her the chance to speak personally about her conservatorship. She requested that the hearing was expedited as a matter of urgency.
The narrative around Britney’s conservatorship has spurred-on calls for legal reform in the States. Conservatorship is commonly used for people with dementia or other mental impairments as they are unable to make their own decisions. However, nothing has been made public about Britney’s supposed mental illness.
A conservatorship limits your ability to advocate for yourself. Meaning Britney has no freedom to grow and develop as a person. There is speculation that she is not allowed access to a smartphone in fears of who will contact her on social media, and that she cannot go into a liquor store due to past issues. Conservatorships are meant to protect people such as Britney, but it can also be a prime arrangement for abuse and exploitation.
Britney’s case has piqued the interest of American Civil Liberties Union, citing her case as a reason to reform conservatorships. Members of America’s Congress, Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz have also asked for an inquiry into the practice.
We have our fingers crossed for Britney to get the support that she deserves.