The 13-year legal conservatorship over Britney Spears was formally terminated by a Los Angeles judge Friday after months of pressure by a passionate #FreeBritney movement, though investigations of her father and wrangling over legal bills will continue.
At a hearing in L.A. County Superior Court, Judge Brenda Penny legally ended an arrangement that was imposed in 2008 following a string of erratic behavior and public incidents by the superstar singer.
The move was largely expected after Spears’ father Jamie Spears – who controlled the conservatorship for years – caved to pressure from fans, activists and Britney herself to end the arrangement. He was suspended in September and earlier this month called for an “unconditional” end to the setup.
Yet it was still watershed moment for the #FreeBritney movement, which grew over the past year amid the release of high-profile investigative documentaries that drew attention to the conservatorship and to her father’s control over her life. It capped off a frenzied five months of legal wrangling that began in June, when Britney broke her silence in a hearing in which she called it “abusive” and pleaded with a judge that “I just want my life back.”
Despite the seeming finality of Friday’s order, it will not end the legal battle over Britney’s life just yet.
Britney’s attorney Mathew Rosengart – a former federal prosecutor – has vowed to investigate serious accusations of wrongdoing by her father, including that she was drugged, that she was unable to remove a birth control device, and that she was secretly recorded. Rosengart has filed subpoenas seeking documents and a sworn deposition from Jamie, and has suggested that the father’s sudden about-face was an effort to avoid such scrutiny.
In the filing earlier this month, the elder Spears vowed to fully cooperate with investigations into the conservatorship. He said such transparency would put an end to “innuendo, misrepresentations and impudent gossip” about the arrangement.
Another looming battle will be over legal bills. Both sides will likely request that their legal fees be paid from funds controlled by the conservatorship, and Judge Penny must approve such a request. And earlier this month, Britney’s mother Lynne Spears filed a request in court seeking to be reimbursed for $650,000 she paid to two law firms for work on the case.
All remaining issues could be discussed at the next hearing before Judge Penny, which is set for December 8.
More to come…