Britney Spears’ powerful plea to a judge to end the guardianship that has controlled her life since 2008 sparked sympathy and outrage from fans, celebrity supporters and even casual observers who say she deserves independence.
However, attorneys dealing with these matters say the speech itself may not have helped her through the legal process, which will be long and arduous.
“When Britney spoke, I mean, the world listened. This was unbelievable, “said family law attorney Peter Walzer.” Now, if the judge will accept it, if the judge will let her out of his guardianship, my bet is no. “
Spears’ passionate, sometimes emotional speech Wednesday to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny was the first time in 13 years that she spoke in public hearing about guardianship, calling it “abusive” and “stupid. “. The guardianship was established when Spears, haunted by paparazzi and media scrutiny while she was a new mother, suffered a very public mental health crisis in 2008.
Spears reviewed the speech in an Instagram post Thursday, apologizing “for pretending I’ve been fine the last two years.
“I did it for my pride and I was ashamed to share what happened to me,” he said, then added, “Believe it or not, pretending I’m okay has helped me.”
In court, Spears said she is forced to continue to use an intrauterine device for birth control and take other medications, is prevented from marrying or having another child, and is not allowed to have her own money. She condemned her father and the others who control him.
The speech was compelling for the same reasons that it can be problematic for the court. He spoke very fast, often profanely, and could seem out of control as he recounted the injustices and emotional turmoil that had brought him.
“It just seems to me that his presentation in his court did him no favors,” said David Glass, a family law attorney with a doctorate in psychology. “The words came out like bullets. She quickly switched between thoughts and ideas. She also admitted to being depressed and crying all the time. I am not her psychologist, but these are things that potentially point to being in the middle of mental illness.”
Penny didn’t wave her hand or offer much reaction to the dramatic performance, other than saying that Spears’ speech was “brave.” It is unclear how much the judge has heard before, either during Spears’ previous speeches to the court in closed sessions or in the many sealed documents filed in the case.
“The court did not say ‘I disagree with you,’ ‘I am concerned about you,’ or ‘I am disappointed that these issues have not come before me,'” Glass said.
There is evidence that Penny considers Spears’ opinions in her decisions.
He recently appointed the wealth management firm Bessemer Trust as co-conservator of Spears’ finances, although he kept his father James Spears as co-conservator against his wishes. And Penny has held court hearings like Wednesday’s increasingly public and left more documents unsealed since Spears pushed for more transparency in the case last year.
Unless the guardianship is terminated, Penny can modify it to make it more acceptable to Spears and could order an immediate investigation into some of the allegations.
“I am alarmed if I am the judge,” said Sarah Wentz, an attorney who specializes in probate and guardianship. “I am going to find out as soon as possible if there are things that we should review or correct, so that the court can see if there are no human rights violations.”
There is plenty of room for Penny to make changes that don’t completely end the guardianship.
“What they can do is try to come up with a plan that meets their goals and wishes in every way possible, so that you only have a few things to check,” Wentz said. “It doesn’t have to be some kind of all-inclusive.”
Spears’ court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham III said that despite his client’s pleas for Penny to end the guardianship, she has not even asked him to petition to do so. He said before Wednesday’s presentation that he made no attempt to “control, filter or edit” his client’s words.
That likely meant that while he felt compelled to convey Spears’s request to speak, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he agreed with her approach.
“That’s why attorneys don’t like their clients talking a lot,” said family law attorney Chris Melcher. “We know what to say and how to say it. proving the other party’s case. “
Melcher said a different approach could have been more effective.
“I think the best thing for her would be a calm demeanor, recognition of her past problems and acceptance of previous court decisions,” he said.
That was the approach Ingham took in recent Spears presentations that attempted to remove her father and assert more control. Those documents acknowledged that the guardianship had done a lot of good in its early days as it vigorously defended the change and said it reserved the right to eventually terminate it.
One thing that certainly won’t happen is the termination of the guardianship, as Spears requested, without any further evaluation of her.
A petition to terminate the guardianship, which Ingham said he could file soon, would be just the beginning of a process that places the burden on Spears to prove her competence.
“It is up to Britney or another interested person to convince the court that it must end,” Melcher said. “This is not a voluntary process where she can just walk out the door.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism