In April, Variety reported that Britney Spears and her lawyer, Samuel Ingham, had formally set a date to address Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny on her legal conservatorship. Namely, that she personally would request the court remove her father Jamie Spears from his role as conservator officially, after years of tumult about how he was executing that conservatorship. The date of the hearing, June 23, is finally here, just one day after the New York Times published a report detailing some of the ways Jamie Spears allegedly mishandled his power, including a “shopping list” of grievances Britney had against him, including his drinking and her belief he was “obsessed” with her.
Back in March, Spears’s counsel filed a motion to bring Jodi Montgomery on as her permanent conservator. By all accounts, this will be the big ask at court Wednesday, as filings by Ingham as well as tabloid sources reveal that Spears likely doesn’t want out of her conservatorship altogether—she just wants her father gone. As the Times wrote, any mistakes made by Spears in the arrangement were met with “very harsh” consequences from her father.
In 2019, Montgomery stepped in as Spears’s temporary personal conservator, after TMZ broke allegations that Jamie Spears had allegedly had an altercation with Britney’s son, Sean. The news followed a long-winding narrative in the press that year as well as the rise of #FreeBritney, a self-dubbed “movement” that claimed Spears was held against her will in her conservatorship. Spears’s ex-husband, Kevin Federline, also filed a restraining order against Jamie, who remained Britney’s financial conservator while Jodi Montgomery took on the personal aspects of the role. TMZ also reported that Spears and her father had a falling out after the alleged altercation, although prosecutors declined to press charges, and the investigation was dropped. Jamie Spears later returned to his duties.
A year later, in August 2020, news formally broke that Spears would like her father to be permanently replaced, confirming a long-standing open secret. In a motion filed by her legal team, Britney requested a “qualified corporate fiduciary” to replace Jamie. She later lost that bid in November 2020, even after her lawyer, Ingham told Judge Brenda Penny that Spears was “afraid” of Jamie, and that “She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career.” Penny declined the application for a new conservator, but did not rule on whether or not Britney could submit a new petition at a future date. Jamie was also assigned a co-conservator, Bessemer Trust Co., over his own choice for fiduciary, Wallet. Britney’s team claimed the latter was “uniquely unsuited” to be a co-conservator.
AP also obtained court documents in November 2020 which revealed that Jamie had allegedly no desire to work with Bessemer Trust, instead wanting to “retain full control of her assets, books, and records.”
As details continued to emerge on Spears’s legal situation, the shape of her conservatorship became clearer. Per the terms of the agreement, she could not vote, marry, or even drive a car, let alone control her assets. Not without Jamie’s express permission—or whichever personal conservator was assigned to her case. In February, the New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears released worldwide, which sent the #FreeBritney “movement” online into overdrive. In an Instagram post after the documentary premiere, Britney claimed she felt “embarrassed” by all the rumors and speculation concerning her personal life. By March, new court documents obtained by Page Six showed that Jamie wanted $3 million in legal fees from Britney to pay for the lawyers he needed to fight her in court. Per Page Six:
“In his petition, Jamie, 68, requested to continue receiving $16,000 per month for his role as co-conservator of the estate as well as $2,000 per month for an office space, equating to $288,000 for the 16-month period. He also asked that his attorneys at Freeman, Freeman & Smiley LLP and Holland & Knight receive $574,625 and $893,751, respectively.”
The $3 million request would also go to PR and communications consultants needed to fight the very, very bad press about Jamie.
In May, Page Six reported that at a court hearing set for June 23, Britney would once again petition Judge Brenda Penny to remove Jamie as her conservator permanently. According to sources who spoke with Page Six, “Britney’s primary focus is on having Jamie removed from the case. She feels that ending the conservatorship entirely can always be discussed down the road, but right now the issue is Jamie.” They added this disturbing window into Jamie’s alleged motivations:
“She relishes in simple pleasures like driving her car and going on vacation. Sure, she is able to do as she pleases within her own home — to an extent — but whenever she wants to step foot outside, it immediately has to become a bigger conversation because security guards and lawyers and other people all need to get involved.”
As attention on the case ramped up, so too did media vultures. In May, a BBC documentary on Spears premiered. The frenzy even reached cannabis sellers, with some in Los Angeles peddling “#FreeBritney” branded strains.
Now that June 23 has rolled around, protesters have begun to gather outside the courtroom. According to the Los Angeles Times, organizers at “freebritney.army” advised protestors to bring a “sign, water, snacks, sunscreen, a camera, and a portable phone charger.”
It’s unclear what Judge Penny’s final ruling will be, as she already denied Spears’s request once. Regardless, one thing is clear: Free Britney.