Britney Spears’ bid for freedom goes back to court

Entertainment

FILE – Britney Spears arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” on July 22, 2019. When Spears speaks to a judge at her own request on Wednesday, June. 23, 2021, she’ll do it 13 years into a court-enforced conservatorship that has exercised vast control of her life and money by her father. Spears has said the conservatorship saved her from collapse and exploitation. But she has sought more control over how it operates, and says she wants her father out. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Three weeks after Britney Spears pleaded with a judge to get her life back, her bid for freedom returns to court on Wednesday with the conservatorship that controls her personal and business affairs embroiled in disputes, resignations and reports of death threats.

Spears, 39, seems no nearer to bringing an end to the 13-year court-sanctioned conservatorship she called abusive, stupid and embarrassing in an emotional address in June.

Her remarks led to the resignation of her court-appointed lawyer, the withdrawal of an estate-management company that was supposed to oversee her finances, and a volley of accusations between her father and a professional conservator over who’s to blame for the legal circumstances Spears said are “abusive” and need to end.

Spears is not expected to speak again at the afternoon hearing, in which all the parties are expected to take part remotely, but she may weigh in as she seeks to hire a lawyer of her choice.

Spears has yet to file the necessary legal documents to terminate the conservatorship. The judge is expected on Wednesday to consider the singer’s choice of a new lawyer to represent her, along with requests for 24/7 security following death threats against those involved in the conservatorship as public support for Spears has swelled.

A Britney Spears supporter waves a “Free Britney” flag outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer’s conservatorship at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

At the June 23 hearing, her first public words in court on the matter, Spears said she was being forced to take medication and use an intrauterine device for birth control, said she was not allowed to marry her boyfriend and said she wanted to own her own money.

“I just want my life back,” Spears said.

She was harshly critical of her father, who serves as conservator of her finances and had more measured criticism for Jodi Montgomery, the court-appointed professional who serves as conservator of her person, overseeing her life choices.

James Spears said in a legal filing that the court needs to investigate the allegations and Montgomery’s role, pointing out that his daughter’s personal life has been beyond his control since he resigned as conservator of her person in 2019, a role he played for 11 years. He opposed Montgomery’s request for money to hire security because of recent death threats, saying he has been subjected to similar threats for years.

Montgomery denied that Britney Spears was prevented from marrying or forced to use birth control. She lashed back at James Spears, saying that Britney Spears has expressed no desire to oust her as she has with her father.

Montgomery said she is committed to staying on the job and is putting a care plan in place to help end the conservatorship, something she said James Spears has expressed no desire to do.

“Mr. Spears, as the Conservator of the Estate, and Ms. Montgomery, as the Conservator of the Person, should be working as a team to ensure that Ms. Spears’ best interest are being met, that she is on a path to recovery and termination of her conservatorship, and that she is living her best life possible,” Montgomery said in a court filing. “Instead, Mr. Spears has decided it is time to start the finger-pointing and media attacks … The mud-slinging by Mr. Spears and his new ‘It wasn’t me!’ strategy — after being her sole or co-conservator for more than 13 years — leaves Ms. Montgomery no other choice but to defend herself.”

Despite nearly two years on the job, Montgomery’s status is still technically temporary. She appeared to be on track for permanent appointment before recent events.

Britney Spears will still be represented at Wednesday’s hearing by her longtime court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, who filed documents last week saying he resigned, effective as soon as she got a new attorney, which at the June hearing she said she wanted.

The Bessemer Trust, a financial company that Spears had sought as a replacement for her father last year but was instead appointed to work alongside him, also withdrew from the conservatorship last week, saying it no longer wanted to take part in a legal arrangement that she didn’t want.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed legal documents supporting Spears.

“The court should ensure that Britney Spears has access to the tools she needs to make that choice meaningfully and to hire someone she trusts to advocate for her stated goal: to get out of her conservatorship,” Zoe Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney at the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, said in a statement.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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