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Britney Spears’ conservatorship finally ends: ‘Britney as of today is a free woman’

After nearly 14 years, Britney Spears’ conservatorship is over, an L.A. judge rules, and the pop star and her devout fans are celebrating the big news.

Britney Spears is finally free. An L.A. judge ruled Friday to terminate the controversial conservatorship that has been in place since early 2008, ending the oversight of two conservators who have supervised the pop star’s person and her estate for nearly 14 years.

Judge Brenda J. Penny returned Spears’ legal rights, effective immediately. The decision had seemed inevitable after a momentous hearing in September, though Penny gave no indication ahead of time about how she would rule.

The crowd of fans assembled on Grand Avenue outside Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown L.A. erupted in joyful cheers and confetti as the news spread. Then they sang and danced to Spears’ hit “Stronger,” hollering the lyrics, “Now it’s nothing but my way / My loneliness ain’t killing me no more.”

“What’s next for Britney — and this is the first time that this could be said for about a decade — is up to one person: Britney,” said Mathew Rosengart, the singer’s attorney since July, speaking at a news conference outside the courthouse. “I will say that Britney has been put into a position, through our collaboration and the work of my law firm, to succeed.

“We have a safety net in place for Britney, both on the personal side and on the financial side …,” he continued. “But Britney as of today is a free woman and she’s an independent woman. And the rest, with her support system, will be up to Britney.”

The singer had specifically requested that there be no mental-health evaluation and the judge didn’t require one, Rosengart said.

“Many people have asked about whether we will continue to investigate Mr. Spears,” he said, referring to the singer’s father, James “Jamie” Spears, who handled his daughter’s sizeable fortune from 2008 until he was suspended Sept. 29.

Rosengart has accused Jamie Spears of financial mismanagement of the estate over the years. “The answer ultimately is up to my client, Britney,” he said.

The parties will meet in court again on Dec. 8 to tie up loose financial threads, and accountant John Zabel will remain in place to resolve financial issues involving outstanding payments. Zabel took over as temporary conservator of Spears’ estate after Jamie Spears’ suspension.

Alex M. Weingarten, Jamie Spears’ attorney, did not respond immediately Friday to an emailed request for comment.

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“Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy !!!,” Britney Spears wrote on Instagram shortly after the hearing ended, peppering her words with emojis. “I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen???”

#FreeBritney fans in L.A. spent the hearing outside the courthouse listening to speeches from friends and relatives of artist Peter Max, actor Nichelle Nichols and the late musician Glen Campbell, decrying their loved ones’ experiences in conservatorships and guardianships. Spears’ case is expected to be used as fuel for conservatorship reform.

Spears’ legal entanglements prompted a glut of documentaries in recent months as well as a call to reassess the rules of conservatorships and guardianships in general.

A crowd of people celebrating Britney Spears
#FreeBritney supporters celebrate outside Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The beginning of Spears’ conservatorship capped a tumultuous few years as the pop musician — then in her mid-20s — lived in the brightest of spotlights.

Since her rise as a teenage pop star, she had been relentlessly pursued by paparazzi and under intense media scrutiny. She had her second son, partied with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, divorced husband Kevin Federline and went to rehab.

Her behavior in public became increasingly erratic, including shaving her head and attacking a photographer’s car with an umbrella.

Pop star Britney Spears, fiancé Sam Asghari and #FreeBritney advocates celebrate the historic end to her 13-year conservatorship.

After locking herself in a bathroom with her youngest child, she was taken from her home on a gurney and, for a second time, was put on an involuntary psychiatric hold. The court gave Jamie Spears temporary control of her person and her estate early in 2008 and made his supervision permanent soon after.

Fans started questioning the conservatorship almost immediately, and that grassroots effort evolved over the years into a vocal movement. In April 2019, the “Britney’s Gram” podcast released an episode titled #FreeBritney that featured insider information — a break from its usual humorous analysis of the singer’s Instagram account — and the movement coalesced around the hashtag.

An L.A. judge ruled Friday to terminate Britney Spears’ controversial conservatorship. These stories explain the long and complicated history behind it.

While under others’ supervision, the “Oops!... I Did It Again” singer had continued to work, earning millions for herself and many others with albums, concert tours, fragrances, merchandise and a lucrative Las Vegas residency. Questions about that and other concerns were raised in the documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which premiered in February.

The intense interest in Spears’ conservatorship plight was triggered this past April, when her court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, told a judge, “My client has requested a hearing at which she can address the court directly.”

That hearing was set for June 23, when Spears — who turns 40 on Dec. 2 — spoke to the court for the first time in years. She declared the conservatorship “abusive” and rained fire on her father for how she said he had treated her over the years. She stunned fans when she said the conservatorship wouldn’t allow her to remove an intrauterine device from her body.

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Unlike previously in the case, Spears’ blistering testimony was heard by the public, and the wheels of justice shuddered back to life. The next month, she was allowed to select her own attorney to replace Ingham.

In mid-August, Jamie Spears filed a petition saying that he would step down as conservator of his daughter’s estate — on his own terms. The document, authored by then-attorney Vivian Thoreen, actually argued that there were “no actual grounds for suspending or removing Mr. Spears as Conservator of the Estate,” but promised that he would eventually transition out of the role once a couple of lingering issues were resolved.

Britney Spears and her fiancé, Sam Asghari, got in the mood for today’s conservatorship hearing with an Instagram post featuring matching T-shirts.

That wasn’t good enough for Team Britney, which swiftly accused Jamie Spears of scheming to swindle $2 million in payments before officially relinquishing control of his daughter’s finances.

In a surprise turn of events, Jamie Spears on Sept. 7 filed to end the conservatorship altogether, insisting that “all he wants is what is best for his daughter.” In mid-October, he switched lawyers, hiring litigator Weingarten as a replacement for Thoreen.

Rosengart celebrated that September filing as a “massive” legal victory for his client, then promptly accused Jamie Spears of surrendering in an effort to dodge consequences for his alleged misconduct amid mounting public scrutiny.

A crowd of people smiling and holding cutouts of Britney Spears
Outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Britney Spears’ fans celebrated Friday’s court ruling to end her 13-year conservatorship.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

After the documentary “Controlling Britney Spears” aired, alleging among other things that the singer had been surreptitiously surveilled in her own bedroom, the attorney said Jamie Spears had “crossed unfathomable lines” and noted that “the allegations warrant serious investigation.”

Moving forward, it’s clear that any such investigation will have to come with the approval of the free woman known as Britney Spears.

Times staff writers Christi Carras, Nardine Saad and Richard Winton contributed to this report.


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