The judge overseeing the conservatorship of Britney Spears issued a bombshell ruling Wednesday suspending the singer’s father as one of her conservators effective immediately, members of the media present in the courtroom reported.
The pop star’s lawyer, Matthew Rosengart, on Wednesday asked Judge Brenda Penny to immediately remove her father, Jamie Spears, as a conservator and replace him with a new one, accusing him of “unfathomable” abuse toward his daughter, including eavesdropping on her private conversations.
“Britney deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator,” Rosengart said Wednesday, calling Jamie Spears a “cruel, toxic and abusive man.”
Ending the legal arrangement “is in the best interest of the conservatee,” Penny decided after more than an hour of hearing arguments from lawyers for both Britney Spears and her father. Now, for the first time since the conservatorship was established 13 years ago, the 39-year-old singer is allowed to live without her father’s supervision.
Outside the hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court, a throng of Britney Spears’ supporters gathered to wait for the news, and celebrated when Penny decided in her favor.
Jamie Spears’ legal team, meanwhile, called for the immediate suspension of the conservatorship all together. Rosengart pushed back on that, calling for a separate hearing on that matter in several weeks’ time.
Key to Rosengart’s strategy is that in the event of her father’s replacement, several private documents about the nature of the conservatorship would be handed over to the new conservator, potentially exposing the full scale of Jamie Spears’ treatment of his daughter.
Penny appointed John Zabel, a certified public accountant selected by Britney Spears, as Jamie Spears’ temporary replacement.
Rosengart, whom Britney Spears hired in July, has also accused her father of trying to extort $2 million from his daughter in exchange for stepping down from the conservatorship.
Up until recently, Jamie Spears maintained that the conservatorship was necessary to protect his “mentally sick” daughter. Rosengart has said he believes his client’s father changed his tune in order to “avoid accountability and justice” regarding the extortion claims.
Britney Spears has been under the control of a conservatorship since 2008 after she was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation, but many details of the arrangement have remained under wraps until recently. In June, she spoke before the court in an effort to end the conservatorship, which she says allows her father and other conservators complete control over her career, personal decisions and finances.
“I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” she said. “You know, fake it till you make it. But now I’m telling you the truth, OK? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
In her 24-minute testimony, she alleged that her conservators blocked her from marrying her boyfriend and forced her to get an IUD, upending her wishes to have another child. She also alleges that they had her put on lithium, a strong mood-stabilizing drug, when they deemed her uncooperative at rehearsals for a series of Las Vegas shows that, by her telling, her conservators forced her to agree to.
The pop icon has also reportedly paid out millions in salaries, office space and other costs for the conservators. Though Jamie Spears voluntarily stepped down as the conservator of his daughter’s person in 2019 and replaced himself with professional conservator Jodi Montgomery, he continued as conservator of her estate until Wednesday’s court ruling.