Saturday, November 27

Britney Spears’ guardianship ended after nearly 14 years | Britney Spears


A judge approved the termination of Britney Spears’ guardianship, freeing the pop star from the controversial legal arrangement that has controlled her life for nearly 14 years.

The ruling marks an extraordinary victory for the singer who struggled for years to regain her independence from the courts, which in 2008 took away her right to make basic decisions about her finances, career and personal life.

Friday’s decision to dissolve guardianship, a court-appointed form of guardianship, means Spears will regain control of her estate and no longer have to pay a team of professionals and attorneys to oversee her affairs.

“The guardianship of the person and estate of Britney Jean Spears is hereby terminated,” said Los Angeles Judge Brenda Penny, announcing the ruling.

The end of the guardianship comes five months after Spears, 39, spoke publicly about the settlement for the first time in court, saying that she had been forced to take medication and act against her will, and that her father, Jamie Spears, had been an abusive conservative who strictly controlled the intimidating details of his life. A judge suspended his father from guardianship in September.

The case has sparked international protests and sparked widespread scrutiny of the media’s treatment of female pop stars and the opaque guardianship system that affects millions of people. Fans, who have been staging #FreeBritney rallies for years, closed the street in front of the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to demonstrate in support of the firing and planned a “freedom party” for the night.

Spears was first placed in a conservatorship while facing apparent mental health struggles amid brutal abuse by the paparazzi in 2008. She was quick to object to the deal and her father’s role in it, reportedly ever since. revealedand tried to hire her own lawyer to defend her. But the courts ruled that she did not have the ability to select an attorney and instead assigned her a court-appointed attorney, Samuel D Ingham III.

Britney Spears
After Britney Spears’ testimony, along with a couple of documentaries about the case, the parties involved said they supported the termination of the guardianship. Photograph: Valérie Macon / AFP / Getty Images

Guardianships are generally established for the elderly or infirm who can no longer make decisions for themselves, but in Spears’ case, the courts established an indefinite guardianship even as she continued her successful career. The arrangement forced her to pay Ingham, her father and his legal team, and others involved in the court case.

Spears staunchly opposed the deal for years, the New York Times reported this year, citing confidential court documents, but Ingham, who made an estimated $ 3 million representing Spears, charging $ 475 an hour, did not advocate the end of the guardianship. In 2016, as Spears was completing her successful Las Vegas residency and releasing her ninth studio album, she described a series of disturbing allegations to a court investigator, records showed.

She allegedly told the court that those involved in the guardianship had forced her to act when she was ill with a fever, that her security team and assistant held her credit card and used it whenever they wanted, that it was limited to a weekly allowance, and that His father forbade him to make cosmetic changes to his kitchen. At a closed-door hearing that year, the Times reported, also said she was forced into a mental health facility against her will, which she saw as retaliation for speaking in a trial.

Despite those private objections, the arrangement continued for years with little change. More recently, Ingham began to express concern about Jamie’s treatment of his daughter, saying in court last year that he was “scared of her father,” but the attorney did not request that Spears regain her independence.

The case took a dramatic turn in June when Spears requested that she be allowed to speak in public and then detailed her complaints, including claims that her boyfriend was not allowed to take her in his car and that she was prohibited from taking off the contraceptive method. He also said that he did not know that he could file a petition to end the guardianship.

In July, Spears was allowed to hire her own attorney, Mathew Rosengart, who has since vigorously advocated for Jamie’s removal and has promised to investigate his actions and handling of his money.

Amid the turmoil sparked by Spears’ testimony and two explosive documentaries about the case, parties from all sides of the conservatorship came out and said they now supported the termination.

Britney Spears' attorney, Mathew Rosengart, speaks outside court in Los Angeles in September.
Britney Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, speaks outside court in Los Angeles in September. Photograph: Chris Pizzello / AP

Junior Olivas, one of the first fans to protest outside of court, said that when he began protesting in April 2019, he thought Spears would be released from guardianship in a month. I had no idea it would be a battle that would last for years: “It took documentaries and everyone talking about it, but my God, we are finally here… I knew this day would come. But I felt like it took forever. “

Meg Radford, another longtime #FreeBritney organizer, noted that it was earlier this year that Jamie called fans “conspiracy theorists” for expressing concerns about her well-being. “Jamie Spears was able to control the narrative by calling us crazy … and the court records were sealed for so long that people couldn’t find the truth.”

Even with the deal terminated, Rosengart has said that he will continue to investigate Jamie, including recent claims that he hired a security team that monitored his daughter’s private communications.

The case has prompted guardianship reform efforts at the state and federal level, and California recently passed a law establishing the rights of wards to hire their own attorneys.

Jasmine E Harris, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and guardianship expert, said this type of firing was rare. Once a court found someone incapable of making decisions, he said, it was difficult for that person to prove that their rights should be restored, and guardianships generally lasted until the individual died.

“I think this would have lasted another 13 years if it hadn’t been for that moment … when Britney was allowed to speak on her own behalf,” Harris said, adding that she hoped the public now understood that people of all ages could lose their independence. through the guardianship system, and that it was a matter of the rights of people with disabilities. He also called for more investment in alternatives to guardianship so that people could get the support they needed without the “nuclear option” of having their fundamental rights taken away.

Radford said #FreeBritney activists would continue to fight for accountability in Spears’s guardianship and for broader reform: “I think this court case will go down in the history books, and Britney’s case will be the Catalyst for significant change for guardianships and guardianship and how we treat our elderly and disabled in the court system. “

She added: “I hope Britney takes time to heal and learn to re-enter the world … And when she’s ready, if she wants to tell her story, I’d love to hear this story from Britney directly someday.”


www.theguardian.com

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