The drumbeat over the conservatorship of Britney Spears continues to mount in advance of the next hearing in her case on Friday, with lawyers on both sides urging it be lifted immediately – for different reasons.
Lawyers for Britney Spears and for her father, Jamie Spears, the just-suspended conservator for his daughter over the past 13 years, have recently filed documents pressing Judge Brenda Penny that the conservatorship should end, and quickly.
“Ms. Spears has made her wishes known about ending the conservatorship she has endured for so long and she has pleaded with this Court to ‘let her have her life back,’ without a (medical) evaluation, recently attending two Court hearings and asking this Court directly to end the conservatorship,” her lawyer Mathew Rosengart said in a 110-page document he filed on Oct. 28. “It is respectfully submitted – with the consent of all parties – that the time has come.”
Jamie Spears filed an eight-page document last week, making the same argument in different terms.
“Jamie unconditionally loves and supports his daughter. Full stop. As he has done for her entire life, Jamie will do everything he can to protect and care for her. For the last 13 years, that included serving as her Conservator. Now, it means ending her Conservatorship,” his filing said. “So it is said in no uncertain terms, Jamie believes that the Conservatorship should end, immediately. Jamie will not seek to continue to serve as Conservator.”
And Britney Spears seems eager for the conservatorship’s end as well, posting on Instagram Monday that this week “is gonna be very interesting for me.”
“I haven’t prayed for something more in my life,” she added, without mentioning the upcoming hearing directly. “I know I’ve said some things on my Insta out of anger and I’m only human … and I believe you’d feel the same way if you were me.”
Will the conservatorship’s end be indeed what happens when all the parties once again assemble – some virtually – in a Los Angeles probate court before Judge Penny Friday? No one is saying, but legal experts say several outcomes are possible, despite public pressure mounting since June.
What a partial lift of Britney’s conservatorship could look like
Christopher Melcher, a family law attorney based in Los Angeles, says the conservatorship over Spears’ person will likely end at Friday’s hearing, which will restore many freedoms to the 39-year-old pop star.
“The (conservatorship) over her person is the most restrictive and offensive, because it’s taking away these basic liberties that we all have about where she’s going to live, who she’s going to see,” Melcher says. “So those should be taken away or restored to her on November 12th, no doubt.”
But Melcher says the conservatorship over Spears’ estate is a more complex issue – and one that he expects to take more time to resolve.
“There are numerous financial issues outstanding,” Melcher says, such as requests for payment of legal fees for lawyers involved in the case. “Those issues I doubt would be resolved on November 12th and would have to be done later on.”
Why is the end of Britney’s conservatorship so hard to predict?
Los Angeles probate litigator Troy Martin expects the conservatorship to come to a complete end at Friday’s hearing, because that’s where the momentum of the case has been headed, he says. But, he adds, “it’s possible the court might come up with a plan for her to be slowly weaned off of the conservatorship” instead.
One way the court could do this, Martin says, is by opting for a “supported decision-making” approach. This would involve Spears starting to make her own major life decisions, but with input from advisors of her choosing as legal restrictions lift.
According to Martin, people rarely ever transition out of conservatorships, so a plan to end Spears’ conservatorship is hard to predict.
“It has to do with just the unprecedented nature of a conservatorship over somebody who is as able as Britney appears to be,” Martin says. “It’s hard to envision what a program to slowly wean her off the conservatorship is going to look like.”
Britney’s lawyer vows to investigate her father
Meanwhile Rosengart continues to criticize Jamie Spears, who has been pilloried for his alleged mistreatment of his daughter over the years. Rosengart has vowed to investigate him for alleged financial misdeeds.
Rosengart’s latest filing details multiple demands he’s made to Jamie, such as all documents relating to agreements, contracts and communications between him and Tri Star Sports & Entertainment (Britney’s manager) over the years, and questions such as how much money he’s received from the conservatorship estate since it began in 2008. He also demands Jamie Spears sit for a deposition.
In a footnote, Rosengart alludes to one reason he thinks why this summer Jamie Spears reversed his longstanding opposition to lifting the conservatorship: in order to avoid producing these documents and sitting for endless depositions.
In his filing, Jamie Spears dismisses this argument, saying he has “nothing to hide regarding his administration of Britney’s estate and will therefore hide nothing.”
“Jamie will unconditionally cooperate with a complete and total transfer of all files regarding the Conservatorship to Britney and her counsel. The Conservatorship does not need to continue in order for this to occur. Jamie is committed to complete transparency without conditions,” his filing concluded.
Jamie Spears asserted in an earlier filing this year that he wanted the conservatorship to end, marking an abrupt turnaround from his position up to then. Judge Penny has since suspended him from his longtime role and he got new lawyers, Alan Weingarten and Eric Bakewell, also of Los Angeles.
USA TODAY has reached out to Weingarten and Bakewell for comment on their most recent filing.
But Jamie is still saying much the same thing as before: He loves his daughter, he wants to protect her and her best interests, he has never abused her and he “unreservedly” supports his daughter’s quest to end her conservatorship.
His lawyers write in their filing: “The fact is that 13 years ago, a conservatorship was necessary to protect Britney in every sense of the word. Her life was in shambles and she was in physical, emotional, mental and financial distress.
“Through the Conservatorship, Britney has been able to return to a path towards stability in all of these phases of her life. The mission has been successful and it is now time for Britney to re-take control of her life. Not tomorrow or next week, now.”