Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement were dealt a major blow yesterday when Judge Brenda Penny ruled against Britney Spears's request to remove her father James Spears as conservator. This leaves James Spears in near-complete control of his daughter's estate, including her vast fortune.
Britney Spears's conservatorship first began in 2008, after she was placed on psychiatric hold amidst conflicts in her personal life. Though it was initially temporary, the conservatorship was made permanent later that year, and has now been in place for over a decade. In 2019, a movement to end the conservatorship arose after an anonymous leaker accused James of exploiting the control it gave him over his daughter. The accusations included detaining Britney in a mental health facility against her will after she violated a rule that prohibited her from driving.
Since then, the conservatorship has been under close scrutiny, and Britney and James have been in a fierce legal battle. In August 2020, Britney's lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, declared that his client wanted the conservatorship altered, and in November he filed a request for James to be removed as sole conservator. It was this months-old request that the judge denied yesterday.
The unfavorable verdict comes in the wake of an article in The New York Times stating that Britney had privately tried ending the conservatorship for years, as well as a zestful outpouring of support from celebrities such as Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake. Britney herself publicly addressed the court for the first time last week, offering over twenty minutes of testimony in which she described the conservatorship as "abusive" and demanded an end to James's control over her life.
Though the latest ruling is not in direct response to the aforementioned testimony, it does come in its aftermath, meaning that the judge was not won over by Britney's pleas for freedom. Britney and Ingham are now reportedly taking a new approach and filing a petition to terminate the conservatorship.
The case is expected to continue on July 14th.
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