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Britney Spears asks to address court at hearing on her conservatorship

Doha Madani and Diana Dasrath
·3 min read
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Britney Spears was granted a request Tuesday to directly address the court managing her conservatorship at a status hearing in June.

Spears' attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, asked for the hearing when the court convened Tuesday to address matters about accounting and fees, which were pushed back to July for more information. It's unclear what issues Spears will raise or whether she will ask to end her conservatorship.

"The conservatee, she has requested that I seek from the court a status hearing at which she can address the court directly," Ingham said in a videoconference. "This does not relate to any of the matters on the calendar now, and it does not relate to the accounting or the fee issues."

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny scheduled a status hearing for June 23.

Ingham declined a request for comment.

Spears has been under a legal conservatorship for more than 12 years, meaning she has essentially had a court-appointed guardian following a public breakdown in 2007. She petitioned to have her father, Jamie Spears, removed from her conservatorship last year; her attorney said she was "afraid" of her father.

The court didn't remove Jamie Spears from her case. Instead, it appointed Bessemer Trust, a private financial institution, as a co-conservator.

The issue drew interest from Spears' fans, who began a #FreeBritney movement. Fans have expressed concerns that Jamie Spears has abused what was meant to be a temporary arrangement.

Britney Spears has rarely spoken publicly about the legal battle, while her father's legal team has defended him. Representatives for Jamie Spears have argued in multiple interviews that the outside concern is misplaced and that he "rescued his daughter from a life-threatening situation."

Her conservatorship was brought under heightened scrutiny this year after the release of "Framing Britney Spears" — a movie documenting her rise to fame, her struggles in the media spotlight and her eventual conservatorship. Neither Britney Spears nor her family appeared on camera in the documentary, which debuted on Hulu in February.

Tuesday's hearing was initially scheduled for Penny to review motions about fees and accounting matters for the conservatorship, including an objection from Spears' mother, Lynne Spears, over more than $890,000 in fees charged to her daughter's estate.

Lynne Spears took issue with fees paid to the law firm Holland & Knight and asked that the court mandate that her daughter be reimbursed for the charges. She also asked that the court review all raw records of the logged expenses in a filing last week, according to the document.

Spears' mother alleges that some of the fees were excessive and unauthorized and that they "largely constituted a 'national media tour'" for Jamie Spears' attorney, Vivian Thoreen, to combat negative news coverage.

"No media issues were contemplated by the Petition, and therefore, no fees or costs regarding handling or dealing with the media or responding to media outlets or media scrutiny should be compensated by the Conservatee's estate by order of the Court," Lynne Spears' objection read.

IMAGE: A fan at a rally for Britney Spears (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file)
IMAGE: A fan at a rally for Britney Spears (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file)

Jamie Spears' legal team filed a biting response Monday, arguing that Lynne Spears "exploited her daughter's pain and trauma for personal profit by publishing a book" and did not have Britney Spears' best interests in mind.

"The Court should note that Lynne Spears fails to cite a single rule, statute, or case to support her fictitious argument about procedural impropriety," the response said.

The response argued that Holland & Knight was hired in part to protect Spears, including in media matters, because the subject of her conservatorship has been under "increasingly intense media scrutiny both in traditional news media as well as on social media and most recently, documentary films."

Any decision on the objections and the other fee requests has been delayed for another hearing in July, when the judge will also review motions to seal paperwork about the accounting for Spears' estate and conservatorship.