On July 14, hundreds of #FreeBritney activists wearing elaborate outfits and holding Britney Spears-themed protest signs gathered outside the Los Angeles Superior Court to advocate for the pop icon amid her ongoing conservatorship battle.
Standing in front of a large pink backdrop adorned with #FreeBritney, organisers of the movement admonished Britney Spears’ conservators during a livestream, a current conservatee and a handful of community organisers slammed the justice system for its failure to properly investigative conservatorship abuse, and, in an eyebrow-raising moment, Florida representative Matt Gaetz said a few words in support of the singer. At one point, a musician sang a re-imagined cover of Spears’ “Lucky” that spoke to her current situation. But the most headline-grabbing moment of all happened inside the court, where Spears was finally granted a major win, and once again spoke out against her father, Jamie Spears.
Inside the courtroom, Judge Brenda Penny reportedly made a decision that stands as the next big milestone in Britney’s fight to end her conservatorship: She granted Britney the right to choose her own attorney, following the resignation of singer’s former court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III. Britney has reportedly chosen Matthew S. Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor who was present at the hearing and boasts a roster of celebrity clients, to represent her and “push for an end to the conservatorship” going forward.
This decision marks the first time that she’s had a say in her own legal representation since 2008. According to a recent investigation by The New Yorker, in the early days of the conservatorship, Britney spoke with two different lawyers who she tried to hire until the judge in her case ruled that the singer had “no capacity to retain an attorney.” In the piece, Jonathan Martinis, the senior director for law and policy at a centre for disability rights at Syracuse University, told the publication that preventing people from getting their own legal counsel is “one of the most dangerous aspects of guardianships.” “‘Britney could have been found holding an axe and a severed head, saying ‘I did it,’ and she still would’ve had the right to an attorney. So, under guardianship, you don’t have the same rights as an axe murderer,’” he said.
It is also significant considering the singer called into question Ingham’s ability to advocate for her at the June 23 hearing. Britney told the court that she “didn’t know [she] could petition the conservatorship to end it” and that she had to do her own legal research at times because Ingham allegedly discouraged her from publicly sharing her traumatic experience.
“My attorney said I can’t let the public know anything they did to me and by not saying anything is saying it was okay what they did to me,” she said at the time. “It’s not okay.”
At that June 23 special hearing, the singer called for the termination of her conservatorship. "I just want my life back, it's been 13 years and it's enough […],” she said via Zoom call. “The main reason why I'm here is because I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated." She called out her father and the rest of her family as contributors to her “abusive” treatment while in her court-sanctioned arrangement. She claimed, among other things, that she was forced to perform, was given lithium against her will, and has been barred from getting her IUD removed. In the July 14 hearing, Britney echoed those statements again, saying she wants her dad charged with conservatorship abuse.
Britney’s next court hearing is scheduled for September 29th.
Refinery29 reached out to Britney’s representatives for comment.
This is a developing story.