Stephanie Marinelli ‘25, Managing Editor

Wednesday, September 29th marks Los Angeles judge Brenda Penny’s crucial decision that has changed the lives of Britney Spears and her father, Jamie, forever. Suspended from oversight of her lavish mansion and finances, Jamie is essentially rendered powerless after 13 years of “abusive conservatorship.”

Following the recent release of The New York Times’s Framing Britney Spears on February 5, 2021, and The New York Times’s Controlling Britney Spears on September 26, 2021 (which was later taken off of YouTube), the struggling star’s “hell on earth” is fully revealed to the public eye, putting even more pressure on Penny to “make the right decision.” In an official statement to the court, Matthew Rosengart, Britney’s handpicked attorney, has called her father’s actions “unfathomable”, and claims “Britney deserves to wake up tomorrow without her father as her conservator. It is what my client wants, it is what my client needs, it is what my client deserves.” Furthermore, Jamie’s lawyer, Vivian Thoreen, refutes Rosengart’s allegations on this “unfathomable” behavior, which references the placement of recording devices in the singer’s bedroom, saying “It’s not evidence, it’s rhetoric.”

         With the resigning of her longtime manager Larry Rudolph on July 5, 2021, he reveals the star’s hopes of retirement in the near future. As written in a letter to co-conservators Jamie Spears and Jody Montgomery, Rudolph states that Spears requested an “indefinite work hiatus” in 2019, and his lack of participation in the cruel operation proves that “his professional services are no longer needed.” Wishing the singer “all the health and happiness in the world,” and support if she “ever needs it,” the piece concludes. However, Rudolph’s sincerity comes into great question after Spears mentioning of a 2018 scandal while officially addressing the court on June 23, 2021. She mentions the managerial staff’s inclinations to sue if she refused to continue on with her tour at the time, and states that she “was handed a sheet of paper as she got off the stage in Vegas, with immense pressure to sign it.” With little rights or decision-making abilities, the show went on.

         Reviewing the events leading up to and following the conservatorship will help further explain why, for 13 years, the curtain continued to be raised. 2007 began Britney’s public battle with ex-husband, Kevin Federline, in which they shared two children, Sean Preston, 16, and Jayden, 15. It is alleged that the fight for custody (in which Federline was to take them away from her) followed her bouts of “erratic behavior,” such as public drunkenness, and driving with her newly born child on her lap. While not all was revealed previously, in response to her husband’s decision, she famously shaved her head, with the odd reasoning “I just don’t want anybody, anybody touching my head. I don’t want anyone touching my hair. I’m sick of people touching my hair.” But the most recognizable act that led to her eventual “5150 hold” (on January 3 and 31st of 2008) in the psychiatric hospital (“involuntary detainment for at least 72 hours”) occurred only days after. The infamous “Umbrella Incident” was momentarily fueled by incessant paparazzi who followed her and her cousin to a Mobil gas station but has roots in Federline’s refusal to let her visit her sons that day. Thus, getting out of her Mercedes with a green umbrella, she attacked a reporter’s car, which was, of course, all caught on film.

         February 1, 2008, marks the beginning of the end for this young, troubled woman. Jamie Spears files for complete conservatorship over Britney, which was only meant to be a “temporary emergency” at the time. He is given the permission to oversee her health, wellness, personal matters (relationships), as well as her estate, with attorney, Andrew Wallet. While the process of taking her rights away may have seemed like a matter of protection “from others and herself” in the beginning, it’s continuity completely violates the definition of a conservatorship itself, making Rosengart’s claims of “abuse” even stronger. This lawful process is commonly used by family members of those who suffer from debilitating physical or mental health conditions (they are also often old in age) for means of gaining ownership. Furthermore, the conservatee must be unable to “take care of themselves” and/or “make their own decisions.” Thus, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz’s decision to “extend the conservatorship indefinitely” (October 28, 2008) on the grounds that her inability to maintain assets and entities alone, and lack of hope in unwavering behavior amongst several “harmful influences” comes into great question. (Who can exactly prove she is unable if not coming from her own lips?)

         2009 marks another year of involuntary confinement for Britney, but questions soon begin to arise by fans and curious strangers alike. While the origin of the hashtag is unknown, the official #FreeBritney Movement began with the creation of, which is still up and running currently. It touched on the fact that she was still out touring, producing multiple platinum-selling albums, and maintaining this image, but was considered “unable to function” by her father and the state of California? While such ideas continued to gain traction, the matter of whether it was “enough” ultimately foretells 2009-2019’s timeline. The first accounting of the conservatorship is made on May 15, 2009, to the Los Angeles Superior Court. The co-conservators’ “cuts” of Spears’ fortune is revealed, as well as her weekly allowance of $1,500. On November 20, 2013, Andrew Wallet requests a raise, claiming that “the Conservatee’s business activities have greatly accelerated due to her increased well being and her capacity to be more engaged in furthering her career activities.” Around this time, the Britney Spears: Piece of Me Tour kicks off in Las Vegas, with the residency extending from December 27, 2013, to December 31, 2017, which she had little say in. Just a year after its commencement, Jamie petitions the court for receival of “compensation” from the shows, along with the funds he was already receiving. With ever-increasing money in wallets and rights continually being stripped away, things remained remotely the same until Jamie was accused of child abuse on September 4, 2019.

         While one may think this referred to the end of the conservatorship, it actually involved Britney’s son, Sean Preston Federline. It was reported that the child retreated to his room, locking the door after an intense argument, only to have the elder Spears break down the door and “violently shake him.” Not long after, Jamie is forced to step down temporarily, following a life-threatening health scare that left him hospitalized. Britney also announces an “indefinite hiatus”, that halts the second round of Las Vegas residency shows. (January 4, 2019)

         Only this year (June 23, 2021), she was first able to speak, personally, on the several accounts of abuse she endured. The Los Angeles Supreme Court listened as Britney described not be allowed to marry, have children (had to keep an IUD in), being forced to perform and even being drugged against her own will. Wanting “all of them to go to jail” this “23-minute address” was made public to the world, furthering the ongoing efforts of the #FreeBritney Movement. She pleads for a termination of this restrictive agreement “without evaluation”, saying, “I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work. The laws need to change,” similar to fans’ reasonings made in 2009. On July 14, 2021, Judge Brenda Penny grants Britney the right to choose her own lawyer, introducing the infamous Matthew Rosengart, who is considered one of “California’s Top 100 Lawyers” by Daily Journal, and “Leader of Influence and Top Litigator & Trial Attorney” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Progress continues, with September 29, 2021, marking a potential emancipation for one who so deserves it.

         This horrific act of imprisonment, that remained invisible amongst our line of sight, speaks to the satanic presence that greed has within the world. Refusing to acknowledge another’s dignity and worth as a human being is not only sinful, but contradictory to our existence. Jamie never threw his daughter into a cell “out of love.” He relished in locking it and throwing away the key, taking not only her fortunes, but her sense of self-worth with him.

“But the truth always prevails, and good will come to those who deserve it.”

Britney Spears’s Infamous “Umbrella Incident”

Source: US Magazine

Britney with her Children, Sean Preston, and Jayden

Source: Hello Magazine