A hearing in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday on the status of the conservatorship that has controlled the personal and financial decisions of Britney Spears since 2008 was closed to the public and media.
Judge Brenda A. Penny granted the request to close the hearing held at Stanley Mosk Courthouse after Spears’ court-appointed advocate, Samuel D. Ingham III, cited the sensitive nature of what would likely be discussed in the courtroom, including Spears’ medical information, her children and her finances.
Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, and mother, Lynne Spears, were both present. The hearing lasted for two hours, but as of Wednesday night, it was still unclear what had transpired in the courtroom.
This was the second status hearing to be held on the conservatorship this year. In May, Penny ordered an independent expert evaluation of the case.
Spears has been under a court-approved conservatorship since 2008, after an undisclosed mental illness led to her public unraveling. The pop icon’s behavior dominated headlines for months.
The singer’s father, Jamie Spears, and lawyer Andrew Wallet were given complete control over her finances and many aspects of her personal life. Wallet abruptly resigned in March a few months after being granted a significant raise, pushing his annual salary to $426,000, records show. Jamie Spears is also paid a salary through the conservatorship.
Conservatorships are designed to protect people who cannot take care of themselves, such as the elderly or very ill. Members of the so-called #FreeBritney movement believe Spears is being unfairly controlled by the arrangement.
Jamie Spears’ attorney, Stanton Stein, has denied those allegations. Spears herself has insisted on social media that she is OK.
“Don’t believe everything you read and hear,” she wrote in an Instagram caption in late April.
Interest in the conservatorship was piqued in January after Spears canceled her planned “Britney: Domination” residency at the Park MGM in Las Vegas before it began, saying that she wanted to be there for her father, who at the time was dealing with a ruptured colon that led to multiple surgeries. Spears reportedly checked herself into a mental health facility for a month-long stay in early April.
Earlier this month, Jamie Spears temporarily stepped down as conservator of his daughter’s personal affairs, citing “personal health reasons,” according to court documents. He asked that his daughter’s care manager, Jodi Montgomery, adopt his duties through January 2020. Jamie Spears remains conservator of the singer’s finances.
This came shortly after Kevin Federline — the father of her two sons — filed a police report alleging Jamie Spears had abused one of his grandsons during a visit at his home. According to reports, he “violently shook” 13-year-old Sean after breaking down a bedroom door to reach him.
The boys were granted a restraining order against their grandfather. On Tuesday, the Ventura County district attorney’s office said it would not pursue criminal charges against Jamie Spears, citing insufficient evidence.
A few dozen Spears fans gathered outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse before Wednesday’s status hearings, holding signs that read “Dissolve the conservatorship” and “Britney deserves autonomy.”
Kevin Wu, a 35-year-old Hollywood resident, took part in the protest. He’s been a Spears fan since he first heard "... Baby One More Time” on the radio when he was a teenager.
“I believe her civil rights are being violated,” he said before the hearing. “I’m hoping that either the conservatorship ends or the judge will make some decision that will move us in that direction.”
The #FreeBritney hashtag was trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon as the hearing unfolded.