Britney Spears asks court to end her conservatorship

By Chloe Melas, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 11:49 PM ET, Wed June 23, 2021
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5:37 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Britney Spears: "I'm traumatized"

From CNN's Chloe Melas

Britney Spears is expressing her anger, frustration and sadness over her ongoing court-ordered conservatorship. 

"I've told the world I'm happy and OK," the singer said about the arrangement that has been in place for nearly 13 years.

"I'm traumatized. I'm not happy, I can't sleep," she continued. 

This is the first time she has addressed the court since her court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, filed to suspend her father Jamie Spears as the conservator of her estimated $60 million estate last year.

5:20 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Britney Spears is now addressing the court

From CNN's Chloe Melas

Britney Spears is currently addressing her conservatorship in a probate court hearing in Los Angeles.

Spears requested her remarks not be closed to the public.

5:08 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

What it looks like at the #FreeBritney rally in downtown L.A.

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus

Britney Spears fans and activists have gathering in Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles as part of a “#FreeBritney” rally. The rally is unfolding as Britney Spears remotely addresses the court about her conservatorship case nearby.

Multiple other, similar rallies are scheduled for today across the country and internationally. Those attending hope to bring an end to Britney Spears’ conservatorship case, which leaves Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, in control of her $60 million estate.

Here's what it looks like on the ground at the Los Angeles rally:

A portrait of Britney Spears looms over supporters and media members outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer's conservatorship at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, on Wednesday, June 23, in Los Angeles.
A portrait of Britney Spears looms over supporters and media members outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer's conservatorship at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, on Wednesday, June 23, in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello/AP

Britney Spears supporters Jan Simmons, right, of Detroit, and her daughter Leanne set up an informational table outside the courthouse.
Britney Spears supporters Jan Simmons, right, of Detroit, and her daughter Leanne set up an informational table outside the courthouse. Chris Pizzello/AP

#FreeBritney activists protest at Los Angeles Grand Park.
#FreeBritney activists protest at Los Angeles Grand Park. Rich Fury/Getty Images

#FreeBritney activists protest at Los Angeles Grand Park.
#FreeBritney activists protest at Los Angeles Grand Park. Rich Fury/Getty Images

Supporters and media gather outside the courthouse.
Supporters and media gather outside the courthouse. Chris Pizzello/AP

4:46 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

You'll be hearing the word "conservatorship" a lot today. Here's what it means.

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus

Britney Spears is expected to address court any moment now about her conservatorship. But what exactly does that mean exactly? 

A “conservatorship” is when a guardian is legally responsible for protecting and managing another person’s finances, medical decisions and life choices. This decision is made when the person under the conservatorship is mentally or physically unable to care for themselves.

The appointed guardian in a conservatorship is referred to as a “conservator” – in Britney Spears’ case, it is her father, Jamie Spears. 

Britney Spears’ court-ordered conservatorship was made permanent in October 2008. Although the specific reasons for the conservatorship have not been publicly addressed, Jamie Spears and Lynne Spears referred to Britney Spears as “an adult child in the throes of a mental health crisis" in February 2008.

However, in July 2020, Britney Spears’ brother, Bryan Spears, said Britney did not want to be in a conservatorship during a podcast interview

"In general, I think, you know, [Jamie has] done the best he could given the situation he was put in. You know, we've had to, like, work together as a family to kind of keep it all going ... She's always wanted to get out of it [the conservatorship],” Bryan Spears said.

For more details on Britney Spears’ conservatorship, read up on CNN’s timeline here. 

4:05 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

SOON: Britney Spears will address the court about her conservatorship

Britney Spears is expected to address the court this afternoon during a hearing about her conservatorship. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET.

This will be the first time she addresses the court since her court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, filed to suspend her father Jamie Spears as the conservator of her estimated $60 million estate last year.

Jamie Spears has been the conservator of his daughter's estate since 2008 after a series of personal issues played out publicly for the singer. Despite several rounds of hearings in the past year, Britney Spears has not spoken publicly about her situation. It is unclear what​ — if anything — she will say when she takes the stand remotely today.

4:26 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Learn about the documentary that sparked international interest into Britney Spears' conservatorship

FX
FX

“Framing Britney Spears,” a documentary in “The New York Times Presents” series, premiered earlier this year — and its release sparked international interest into the star's ongoing conservatorship, which is overseen by her father, Jamie Spears.

Here’s a look at what's covered in the documentary:

  • Conservatorship: The documentary dives into the controversy around the conservatorship, which has been in place since 2008. Britney Spears has petitioned to remove her father from his role as conservator. Critics throughout the film argue that the conservatorship highlights the misogyny Britney Spears has faced throughout her career.
  • Britney's rise to fame: The documentary explores Britney Spears’ childhood, beginning with her days as a child star and the rollercoaster into stardom. The film also includes debate over the hyper-sexualization of Britney Spears at a young age. She was subjected to questions about her body, her virginity and more – topics which rarely were directed toward members of boy bands. 
  • Tabloid scrutiny: These sexualized topics led to intense criticism from the media as Britney Spears grew older. She underwent immense pressure from tabloids, from the paparazzi that chased her to late night comics who lampooned her misfortunes to Diane Sawyer's ABC interview with her. 
  • #FreeBritney: The documentary also underscores the viral support Britney Spears’ case has generated over the years. As former MTV VJ Dave Holmes notes, part of the fascination with Britney Spears comes from the fact that she remains a mystery, even as her case grows in the spotlight. "We never knew her," Holmes said. "We know her even less now."

A few things to to remember:

  • Britney Spears did not participate in the making of “Framing Britney Spears.” 
  • Samantha Stark, the documentary’s director, said "We tried everything," even direct messaging the singer without success.
  • After the documentary was released, Britney Spears posted on Instagram that she “cried for two weeks” over the film.
  • According to Britney Spears, she didn't watch the documentary in its entirety. "I didn't watch the documentary but from what I did see of it I was embarrassed by the light they put me in ... I cried for two weeks and well .... I still cry sometimes!!!!"

CNN's Alyssa Kraus contributed reporting to this post

4:45 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

As Britney Spears speaks in court, #FreeBritney supporters will rally

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus

Rich Fury/Getty Images
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Britney Spears’ court hearing will take place in Los Angeles this afternoon, but supporters of the #FreeBritney movement are rallying across the world.

The #FreeBritney movement claims the singer is being oppressed by her conservatorship and denied many personal freedoms. Virtually all of its adherents' ​claims are strongly denied by those close to Spears or involved in the conservatorship.

In the US, fans and activists are expected to rally in cities across the nation, such as Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta and New York City. International support will also be shown in countries such as England, Norway and Germany. There are also virtual rallies planned.

Some fans have dubbed today #BritneySpeaks in honor of Spears addressing the court today. #FreeBritney supporters are eager to hear what Spears has to say when she addresses the court about her conservatorship and her father’s role in her financial and medical decisions. 

"It's nerve-racking, because finally we're going to have some answers and some insight," said a Free Britney leader, Junior Olivas, who ​plans to be demonstrating outside the Los Angeles Superior Court. "We've been hearing from everyone around Britney, but not Britney herself."
4:09 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

Here's a quick timeline of Britney Spears' case

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus and Chloe Melas

Britney Spears is scheduled to address the court this afternoon during a hearing about her conservatorship.

While we wait, here's a look back at how the case has unfolded over the past 13 years:

  • January 2008: Britney Spears was hospitalized twice. The first incident occurred in early January, when she underwent drug and alcohol testing and a psychiatric evaluation after a custody dispute at her home. The second hospitalization occurred in late January, and she was released nearly one week later.
  • October 2008: Britney Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, was permanently appointed as a joint conservator of his daughter’s estate, along with attorney Andrew Wallet. This decision came after a series of personal issues played out publicly for the singer. However, in 2019, Wallet resigned and Jamie Spears became the sole conservator of Britney Spears’ $60 million estate.
  • September 2019: Jamie Spears stepped away from overseeing Britney Spears’ medical decisions after suffering with his own health problems, and Jodi Montgomery temporarily filled the role as conservator.
  • August 2020: Britney Spears' court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, requested Jamie Spears be removed as conservator of the singer's estate and requested a judge enlist Bessemer Trust, a wealth and investment management firm, to oversee Britney's estate. In November, the judge declined to remove Jamie Spears as conservator of Britney's estate but appointed Bessemer Trust to act as co-conservator.
  • December 2020: CNN obtains court documents in which Ingham said the singer would not perform again as long as her father remained in control of her fortune. 
  • February 2021: The New York Times debuts a documentary spotlighting Spears' conservatorship called, "Framing Britney Spears." It sparks international interest into the ongoing conservatorship, with many calling on it to end. It also adds fuel to the viral #FreeBritney movement, which claims the star is being kept against her will in a legal stranglehold that denies her many basic personal freedoms (But remember: Virtually all of its adherents' ​claims are strongly denied by those close to Spears or involved in the conservatorship).
  • March 2021: Ingham requested that Jamie Spears be permanently replaced by Montgomery as conservator. In a filing obtained by CNN, Ingham cites an order filed on Oct. 10, 2014 that determined Britney Spears had an "incapacity to consent to any form of medical treatment" as the reason why Montgomery should take over full conservatorship.
  • April 2021: Ingham announced that "Britney wants to address the court directly," and a hearing was put on the schedule for today.

2:27 p.m. ET, June 23, 2021

This is the selfie Britney Spears' boyfriend posted ahead of today's hearing

Ahead of Britney Spears' address to a court over her conservatorship, her boyfriend, Sam Asghari, posted a selfie to his Instagram wearing what could be a "Free Britney" shirt.

The full text of the word is cropped out. Here's a screenshot of the Instagram story: