Britney Spears doesn’t want conservatorship case ‘hidden away ... as a family secret’
The fan-fueled #FreeBritney movement just got its biggest endorsement, and it came from Britney Spears herself.
In a Wednesday filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, the 38-year-old pop singer gave credence to the viral campaign whose organizers her father and conservator James “Jamie” Spears recently characterized as “conspiracy theorists.”
The "... Baby One More Time” singer’s statement came when her court-appointed attorney filed a motion opposing her dad’s request to keep the case sealed.
“Far from being a conspiracy theory or a ‘joke’ as James reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public,” wrote the artist’s attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III.
Despite rampant speculation, singer Britney Spears stated in legal documents that her protracted conservatorship is voluntary.
That motion, reviewed by The Times on Thursday, asked the court to open Spears’ protracted conservatorship case to public scrutiny after being sealed at her father’s behest for years. Jamie Spears has argued that the family business should remain private.
"[T]he public has a legitimate interest in understanding how its court system operates,” Ingham wrote, citing the California Constitution.
Ingham argued that Spears’ father’s sealing strategy might have had merits years ago, when the pop musician was trying to restart her career, but that has changed.
“At this point in her life when she is trying to regain some measure of personal autonomy, Britney welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans,” her attorney said. “Although the sealing motion is supposedly for her ‘protection,’ Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret.”
The #FreeBritney movement has closely followed the few publicly available developments in the case, and supporters have protested outside the courthouse during hearings. The campaign has called for an investigation of the conservatorship — known in other states as a legal guardianship — which was put into place after the “Toxic” hitmaker’s public unraveling in 2008.
After more than a decade, why is Britney Spears still under a court-approved conservatorship, which leaves decisions involving her estate and everyday life to others?
The campaign’s Change.org petition has amassed more than 107,500 signatures in the past year and garnered celebrity support, including from Miley Cyrus, Ariel Winter, Ruby Rose and Paris Hilton as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Some organizers want to see the abolition of the arrangement, alleging abuse or theft that James Spears has denied, while other fans have been looking for coded messages in Spears’ recent Instagram posts.
However, in a filing earlier this week, Spears’ attorney said the conservatorship is “voluntary.” He added that Spears is “strongly opposed” to her father remaining the sole conservator of her person and estate and requested that a corporate fiduciary, Bessemer Trust Co., be appointed to manage her estate.
In Wednesday’s filing, Spears said she opposes her father’s move to reappoint her former co-conservator, Andrew M. Wallet, who resigned from the case in 2019. (A temporary conservator is currently in charge of her person.)
“Britney strongly believes it is consistent not only with her personal best interests but also with good public policy generally that the decision to appoint a new conservator of her estate be made in as open and transparent a manner as possible,” Ingham wrote. “The sealing motion is supposedly being brought by her father to ‘protect’ Britney’s interests, but she is adamantly opposed to it. Therefore, the Wallet Appointment Sealing Motion should be denied.”
Ingham also argued that the moment her father obtained the power to handle Spears’ affairs on her behalf, he “surrendered a large measure of privacy as to the manner in which he exercises that power.”
“Transparency is an essential component in order for this Court to earn and retain the public’s confidence with respect to protective proceedings like this one. In this case, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole world is watching,” he wrote in conclusion.
Dozens of Britney Spears fans holding signs reading “FREE BRITNEY” and “Brit is Stronger” gathered outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Friday afternoon in anticipation of a status hearing on the pop star’s contentious conservatorship.
#FreeBritney organizers were elated Thursday after reading Spears’ acknowledgement in the court filing.
“Reading the latest court document brought tears to my eyes,” organizer Megan Radford of Oklahoma City, said in a statement to The Times. “We’ve always known our movement was on the right side of history. We saw the abuse and didn’t believe the lies being fed to us. But to see her support confirmed via a court document was truly an incredible moment for me. I am so proud of the #FreeBritney movement and want Britney to know that we will NOT STOP until she’s free.”
“I am over the moon that Britney’s lawyer is finally advocating for her interests and objecting to the sealing of her conservator dad’s petition,” added Kevin Wu of Los Angeles. “I completely agree that it’s simply good public policy to keep court proceedings open and transparent and am elated to know that Britney herself welcomes the support of her fans.
“The new filing confirms what we in the #FreeBritney movement already suspected — that the sealing motions are to protect the conservators and their suspicious motives and not in the interest of Britney’s privacy,” Wu said. “It feels incredible to know that our efforts are paying off!”
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