“I would honestly like to be able to sue my family,” Britney Spears said Wednesday via telephone to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom during a hearing over her on her longtime and restrictive conservatorship. “After I’ve told the whole world I’m OK, it’s a lie,” the once-time Princess of Pop added. “I’m not happy, I can’t sleep, I’m depressed, I cry every day.”
About 100 fevered fans outside the L.A. Superior Court venue, the much anticipated remote appearance by the “Toxic” singer was one of the few times Spears has spoken out since being placed in the comprehensive conservatorship in 2008, when almost full control of the mother of two was given to her father Jamie Spears after a series of public incidents and hospitalizations.
“It is my wish and dream for all of this to end. I want my life back,” Spears went on to say today in an often hurried manner as family, lawyers and court officials listened in. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive … I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated. I want to petition to end the conservatorship.”
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” Spears said, comparing her situation to sex trafficking. “I deserve to have a life.”
The stark comments Wednesday came after years of discord behind the scenes, on social media and in court regarding the conservatorship. The singer’s main attorney Samuel D. Ingham III informed the court back on April 27 that his client wanted to “address the court directly.” With the spotlight intensified due to the #FreeBritney movement that grew exponentially out of the probing Framing Britney Spears documentary that launched on Hulu and FX in February, Spears indeed did that today.
Revealing, among other things, that she would like to get married again and have another child but can’t because of an IUD she isn’t allowed to have removed, Spears exclaimed at one point that her father “loved the control he had over someone as powerful as me.”
The “…Baby One More Time” singer also outlined in the hearing how she is constantly monitored or watched even when she changes her clothes or is visiting her now teenage sons, was compelled to take mood altering medication like lithium, perform when she didn’t want to and more seemingly draconian holds on her personal freedom.
Telling Judge Brenda Penny that “I wish I could stay on the phone to you forever,” Spears’ statements during today’s status hearing were a far cry from the usual dance moves and cryptic remarks she posts on social media.
The most public display of discontent by Spears over the past 13 years, today is not actually the first time she has sought to recalibrate her legal equation. Just a few years after the conservatorship was put in place, the multi-platinum singer pushed back in the courts against the vast control her father has over her $50 million-plus fortune, plus her medical, personal and professional choices. According to documents cited in a New York Times investigation published Tuesday, the now 39-year-old Britney Spears thought the conservatorship had “too, too much” control over her life and affairs.
Despite the fact that in most circumstances, with the exception of severe cases, conservatorships often last a few months or a couple of years at most, Spears’ state has been repeatedly upheld by the courts. This situation has continued even though Spears has been putting out albums routinely and even had a lucrative Las Vegas residency from 2013 up until she announced “an indefinite work hiatus” in 2019. That pause was in part, Spears said at the time, because of the health of her sometimes estranged father.
Jamie Spears, according to his daughter on social media at the time, “almost died” from a ruptured colon. That same year saw lawyer Andrew Wallet leave his role co-running the conservatorship and later the elder Spears relinquish oversight of his daughter’ s medical affairs, but not her finances and therefore her career. Licensed fiduciary Jodi Montgomery was temporarily appointed to the conservatorship two years ago, a role Ingham petitioned the court this March to make permanent; today, Spears herself said that “even Jodi is starting to take it too far.”
In a hearing earlier this year, the court-appointed Ingham told Penny that his client is “afraid of her father” and “will not perform as long as her father is in charge of her career.” Which is why since February of this year, Jamie Spears has shared running his daughter’s cash with wealth management firm Bessemer Trust, a company Penny put in place.
Unsurprisingly, with the mammoth interest in Spears’ appearance today, there were some technical glitches in the hearing. Specifically, the LASC website crashed and had to be reset after a surge of sign-ons overwhelmed the system just before the hearing’s scheduled 1:30 PM PT start. In fact, Spears herself had issues as Penny’s clerk didn’t recognize her when the singer first called in to access the hearing. Asked to identify herself, Spears hesitated and then said “Oh me, Britney Spears!”
At the end of Spears’ 20 minutes of comments, Penny (who is the mother of Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny) said to her: “I know it took a lot of courage for you to say everything.”
(Update, 3:25 PM) “He is sorry to see his daughter suffering, and in so much pain,” Jamie Spears’ attorney Vivian Lee Thoreen said in a brief statement read to the court upon return from a short recess. “Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much.”
Likely to exit as Britney Spears’ own lawyer soon upon his client’s desires, Ingham told the court now that the singer had her say, she would like “proceedings sealed going forward.” How and when those proceedings move ahead is TBD as no formal petition for termination of the conservatorship or anything else related to the Spears matter has been filed. Noting Spears’ care plan should be updated, Penny counseled the lawyers to talk and work out what’s to come next, after which she would schedule more time on the calendar.