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Britney Spears set to speak at conservatorship hearing: Will we finally see a #FreeBritney?

Britney Spears is set to break her silence at Wednesday’s conservatorship hearing. 

This is a big deal for the #FreeBritney movement as it is the first time the pop star will be heard, in her own words, since she moved to oust her estranged father, Jamie Spears, as co-conservator of her estate. Over the last year, fans have heard only her court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, speak on her behalf, saying that the star “will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career” and that she’s “afraid” of him. Or fans have heard the words of the attorney of her mother Lynne Spears describing the “toxic” relationship between father and daughter and objecting to how Jamie is spending the superstar’s fortune.

The hearing takes place Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET. It’s a probate case, overseen by Judge Brenda Penny, in California Superior Court.

Britney Spears will be attending the hearing virtually. According to the court, “to allow for social distancing, all litigants and bar members are encouraged to appear remotely via audio or video” at all hearings. Judge Penny is expected to appear in person at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles — and that is where the #FreeBritney protesters will be staked out.

Attendees at the court proceedings are expected to be: Britney Spears (conservatee) and her lawyer Ingham, Jamie Spears (co-conservator of her estate) and his attorneys, a Bessemer Trust representative (co-conservator of her estate) and attorneys, Jodi Montgomery (conservator of Britney in her personal capacity) and “interested parties,” including Lynne Spears and her lawyers.

Britney Spears, 39, has been in a legal conservatorship since 2008. (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

Media requests to film or record the proceedings have been denied, according to court documents. That’s not new — cameras have been kept out of the courtroom in this matter. However, reporters are allowed to listen in.

Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship since February 2008 amid back-to-back hospitalizations. As rehashed in the headline-making Framing Britney Spears documentary, things had come to a head at the time — she was going through a divorce from Kevin Federline, lost custody of her two babies and was addicted to drugs or was being drugged by her manager (depending on which party you asked). She was also being hounded relentlessly by the media and the paparazzi. Jamie Spears acted as her primary conservator until 2019.

Britney Spears has two conservatorships. One governs her in her personal capacity and is overseen by professional conservator Montgomery, managing all aspects of her daily life, including who she speaks to, who enters her home and where she travels; this conservator also manages her safety as well as all medical matters. The other conservatorship governs her estate and is overseen by Jamie Spears and the wealth manager and is in charge of her $60 million estate. (Britney Spears also reportedly has money and property in various trusts and business entities, which the conservators do not control.)

A #FreeBritney sign outside the courthouse. (Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP)

The issue with the conservatorship, and what is at the heart of the #FreeBritney movement, is that it restricts her rights, first and foremost. The legal arrangement is usually put in place for the most vulnerable and incapacitated people, and the star’s own attorney called her a “high-functioning conservatee.” And that is what fans see. She earned a whopping $138 million between 2013 and 2017 for her Las Vegas residency, something someone truly incapacitated would not be able to do. 

Also of note, this conservatorship is very lucrative to all parties — other than Britney. Her money is used to pay all the lawyer fees for her conservators and their salaries. That number is in the millions annually, including more than $2 million for Jamie’s legal fees alone.

In April, it was reported that Jamie spent $900,000 of Britney’s money in a matter of months just to fight her in court to remain as conservator (a job he collects $192,000 a year for, plus office rental fees). Shortly after, Ingham told the court that Britney “requested that I seek from the court a status hearing at which she can address the court directly.” He didn’t say what the 39-year-old plans to discuss but said it pertains to the “status of the conservatorship.”

All along, Jamie’s attorneys have said if she wants to get out of the conservatorship, all she has to do is file to do so. Because she hasn’t filed, it’s suggested that she finds at least some benefit in it. However, according to a new report from the New York Times — which was behind the Framing Britney Spears documentary — she has been trying to end the “oppressive” and “controlling” conservatorship since at least 2014.

“She articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,” the probate investigator wrote in previously sealed documents filed in the 2016 annual review of the conservatorship, according to the New York Times

Britney also claimed that her father was “obsessed” with her, according to the investigator’s report, and that he wanted to control every aspect of her life. She could not make friends without his approval or make cosmetic changes to her home, including him having the final say on the color of her kitchen cabinets.

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