Britney Spears’ attempts to disentangle herself from her father’s long-term control over her life and career hit a judicial pothole today.
Judge Brenda Penny on Wednesday refused a months-old request by the “Toxic” singer’s lawyer to remove Jamie Spears from his co-conservator perch, from which he has overseen his daughter since 2008. Her court-appointed lawyer Samuel Ingham III had filed the effort to remove Spears’ father back in November 2020.
“The conservator’s request to suspend James P. Spears immediately upon the appointment of Bessemer Trust Company of California as sole conservator of estate is denied without prejudice,” said the June 30 document from Judge Penny (read it here). “The conservatee’s request for an order directing James P. Spears, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group and Michale Kane, to deliver the entire conservatorship estate together with all books and records forthwith to Bessemer Trust Company of California, N.A. as sole conservator of the estate is denied without prejudice,” she added.
This latest move in the battle over Britney’s life and career follows a rare and sometimes heartbreaking appeal by Spears in court on June 23. At that hearing Spears laid out in great detail her distress over the restrictive conservatorship and her inability to control her own affairs. She expressed a desire to end the arrangement to allow her more control over her life, career and even her own body.
The ruling today by Judge Penny was in many ways perfunctory, insomuch as it was intended to cement Bessemer Trust Company as the other co-conservator in the arrangement.
However, while Spears says she wants the conservatorship to either end entirely or change, she and her lawyer Ingham have yet to file any request to change the conservatorship itself.
In last week’s hearing, where Spears, her parents, and the other co-conservators appeared remotely, Judge Penny indicated that she should be open to such a filing. However, before that happens, the status of Ingham and whether he continues as Spears’ attorney must be determined.
Today’s ruling was intended by the judge to approve Bessemer Trust as the co-conservator, but also reiterates the judge’s decision to not remove the elder Spears from the one-time Princess of Pop’s conservatorship.
The open unhappiness by Spears is actually not the first time she has sought to alter her legal status.
Just a few years after the conservatorship was put in place after some signs of distress on the singer’s part in the last year of George W. Bush’s reign, the multi-platinum performer tried without success to loosen the grip her father has over her $50 million-plus fortune, plus her medical, personal and professional choices. According to documents referenced in a New York Times investigation published early last week, the now 39-year-old Spears declared the conservatorship had “too, too much” control over her life overall.
The fact is in most circumstances, with the exception of extreme cases, conservatorships often last mere months or a few years. In this case, Spears’ status has been repeatedly upheld by the courts, as it was today.
Though different lawyers and conservators have been brought on board over the past 13 years, the convoluted situation and the elder Spears’ part in it has continued. Throughout, the younger Spears has been putting out albums, and even had a very demanding and well-paying Las Vegas residency from 2013 up until she announced “an indefinite work hiatus” in 2019. The end in all but name to that residency was, in part, Spears said at the time, because of the health of her sometimes-estranged father.
With Britney Spears declaring on June 24 online that she has been “pretending like I’ve been ok the past two years,” that hiatus seems more poignant.
Tom Tapp contributed to this report.