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Roses for #FreeBritney Day

Today, the conservatorship of Britney Spears is expected to come to an end or end in a personal sense but carry on in an estate sense while forensic accountants dig through the documentation to find the missing hundreds of millions of dollars of her hard earned money.

This day came after 13 years of her not being able to pick her own counsel. On July 14, 2021 Britney was finally granted the ability to choose former assistant US attorney and prosecutor Matthew Rosengart as her lawyer. It’s hard to imagine why someone as wealthy and talented as Britney Spears would not be allowed to pick her own lawyer for 13 years. It’s also disturbing that her dad was chosen as her conservator of the estate and person.

Imagine the obnoxious and stupid uncle you have to sit next to at your next holiday dinner. You know, the loud, foul mouthed, aging high school football player that drinks too much, shows you pics of his January 2021 vacay to Washington, and leers at you from beneath his dirty baseball cap? He’s out of work, short on cash, just got out of rehab, and you haven’t seen him for years? He still shags his ex-wife, who sits neat and pretty like a good southern belle. Well, he has to because she’s got all the good ideas, like how to live like a Queen on her kid’s career. He wants some of that. Yeah, that guy. Imagine being under that guy’s thumb for 13 years.

With release of court documents dating back to 2008, we now have a clearer picture of how Britney got into this Kafkaesque nightmare to begin with. You might have thought it was Britney’s erratic behavior that got her into this mess. What person in their 20’s doesn’t do erratic things on occasion? It’s just harder to get away with them when you’re being trailed by hundreds of photographers.

In actuality, it was something mature, rational and sensible that she did in 2004 that triggered this series of unfortunate events. She put the bulk of her assets and money into two revocable trusts so her family wouldn’t be able to get their hands on them. In short, she cut the rest of her family off from any money she had. They were too controlling and she didn’t trust them. They didn’t take that too well.

In the next few years, she got married, had two children, got divorced, was hounded relentlessly by the paparazzi, self-medicated and had a breakdown. All of that coincided with the time when she fired her previous managers and decided to strike out on her own.

Her parents used her public meltdown as the reason for putting her into a conservatorship. They schemed with a woman named Lou Taylor, a friend of Britney’s mother and a middling business manager with lofty aspirations, to take over Britney’s life. They must have had some pretty good insider legal knowledge (I’m betting that Kevin Federline’s lawyer had connections) on how to lock someone up into perpetual servitude because the whole conservatorship was set up within a couple of days, the court ran like a well oiled machine, and the required 5-day notice to Britney was waived by the judge. She got a court appointed attorney and the judge dismissed the one that Britney hired with the help of her family law attorney. All of her assets were seized by her father, Jamie, and the custody that she had over her two children was handed to him as well. That’s key to how they got her to work for the last 13 years. When she objected to the plans her father and her new Business Manager, Lou Taylor, made for her, Jamie threatened to withhold visitation with her kids to get her to comply.

Jamie was also granted permission to hire 24/7 security for Britney. Every move she made for 13 years was documented. Security administered her medication to her. If you watched the NYTimes documentary Controlling Britney Spears, you probably know by now that one of the employees of Black Box Security reported that a bug was planted in her bedroom in order to record interactions with her kids, her boyfriend and her court appointed attorney. That’s not just speculation. The employee made a copy of the recordings he was asked to destroy. He thought it might come up later. There are 180 hours of recordings. Imagine what might have happened in 180 hours in your bedroom.

This crackdown on her freedom and civil rights was enabled because her parents’ lawyers checked the box on her conservatorship papers for “dementia”. The conservators have insinuated that Britney has some mental illness that they can’t disclose for privacy reasons. But in that case, California has a limited conservatorship available that could have been used. It has treatment expectations and expires in a year. That could have been used to help someone with bipolar disorder adjust to new medication and to learn stress management strategies. But if Britney has bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, it’s baffling how she could have endured such a stressful and relentless performance schedule for 13 years. She’s no Brian Wilson. So, call me skeptical.

In any case, that’s not the conservatorship Britney is in. The “dementia” check box allowed her parents to put her into a probate conservatorship. That’s usually reserved for people who have severe cognitive disabilities brought on by Alzheimer’s disease or Jakob Creutzfeld syndrome or some age related condition that is not expected to get better. It allows the conservators to control the conservatee’s money. Keep that in mind whenever you hear Jamie Spears’ lawyer tell the public how much he “loves his daughter”. A limited mental illness conservatorship would have been loving. A probate conservatorship gave him all of her money.

Besides, the documentation of Britney’s incapacity due to dementia was never presented to the court. It’s not included in the court documents. I guess the lawyers were going to send it in later but pressed the court for immediate action because of the urgency of the situation. Yet this was the reason why Britney was stripped of her bodily and financial autonomy and reduced to the legal status of a minor. Then, this supposedly severely disabled, cognitively incompetent, mentally ill young adult was signed to multiple recording, touring and residency contracts and worked like a “racehorse” (her father’s description).

It’s ironic how many of her songs mirror her life: Lucky, Slave for You, Work Bitch, Toxic…

Her conservators were also able to take control of her business contracts, investments and eventually, those two trusts that Britney was hoping to keep out of their hands. Her court appointed lawyer, Sam Ingham, did almost nothing to stop this. He was getting paid up to $10k a week to represent Britney but instead of checking the books to make sure she wasn’t being ripped off, he rubber stamped all the requests by Jamie and Lou Taylor. And for 13 years she was prevented from replacing him by the probate court.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of Britney’s earnings are now missing. Britney’s new attorney, Matthew Rosengart was able to get Jamie removed as Britney’s conservator after she had been begging the court to remove him since the conservatorship’s inception. Now that Rosengart has access to all of the records between Jamie and the conservatorship’s lawyers, he is going after disgorgement of the booty they ripped off from Britney’s contracts.

Lou Taylor and the person she appointed to be Britney’s minder, Robin Greenhill, have refused to cooperate by not turning over business agreements and accounting documents and by filing to quash subpoenas. Lou Taylor is a fascinating villain. She’s married to an evangelical pastor. Her initial attempts to meet with Britney in 2007 were with the intention of exorcising gay demons from Britney. Apparently, there were rumors of Britney’s bisexuality. Britney contacted her lawyer asking him to help protect her from the woman who was stalking her. Instead, a few months later, that crazy religious stalker was her business manager.

November 12, 2021 is the day when the conservatorship is expected to end permanently. Her father is out of the picture since September 29, Lou Taylor resigned as Britney’s business manager in 2019 when Britney went on a work strike. She refused to do another Las Vegas residency or any performing at all while her father was still conservator. I guess Lou didn’t see a lot of money in the future so she resigned.

Britney’s mom, Lynn, finally started taking an interest in the harsh conditions that Britney has been living under and hired her own lawyers to petition the court to allow Britney to replace her court appointed lawyer with Rosengart. All of this legal action has cost Britney millions of dollars as she’s paying everyone who wanted to keep the conservatorship in place indefinitely. The money to pay everyone comes from her estate.

Lynn was likely induced to take action by the prospect of losing her own livelihood after 2019. She’s been kind of quiet, in the background, writing books about Britney’s struggles. It looks like Lynn might be that sneaky Machiavellian type that masterminded the whole idea and benefitted mightily by carefully cultivating the image of the long suffering mother, steadily enduring the crazy whirlwind of two daughters of celebrity status. I have a feeling that the screenwriters are going to have a field day with Lynn and predict that anyone who plays her will walk away with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

So, Britney will be free today, barring some unforeseen circumstances or technicality Rosengart needs to use to get the depositions and documents he needs from Lou Taylor. It is certain that the conservatorship of her person will end today and she’ll be able to make her own decisions again like if she can drink coffee, read books of her own choosing, ride in other peoples’ cars and buy sneakers with her own credit cards.

Britney has publicly shamed her entire family for the conservatorship that stole her youth and her ability to parent her two kids. She’s been “isolated, medicated and liquidated” like so many other people locked in conservatorships. In this case, though, we have seen a person who was able to excel in her career, whether she wanted to take years off or not. No one who saw her perform, rehearse or “take up for herself” on June 23 of this year would mistake her for a person with dementia.

There’s a good book and movie in this story. If the California conservatorship system comes under scrutiny as well, so much the better. A conservatorship could be hellish for people who have self interested conservators. As for the family members, their lawyers and business managers who trapped her, exploited her and took her money, I have to agree with Britney. “They belong in jail.”

3 Responses

  1. Off topic:

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  2. Off topic again:

    Never forget–many of the people who vote for the Orange Traitor and his Grim Reaper Party (GRP, fka GOP) are NOT bigots. The GRP could not win on the bigot vote alone.

    These amoral non-bigots understand that this country can’t be transformed into a just society without massive redistributions of wealth and power, which would cause the amoral non-bigots–many of whom are at least affluent, if not rich–to pay higher taxes, and to have less political power. To avoid that, they vote for the GRP.

    They feel no personal animosity against uppity ni(*CLANG*)s, or other uppity non-whites, or uppity wimmin, mind you–they are just Sensible Realists Who Look Out For #1.

    There was a time, when I was young and stupid, that I considered myself a Libertarian, although I have never actually joined any political party. This coincided, to a large degree, with my agnostic period–after all, if there be no God and no afterlife, then “Look Out For #1” becomes the only worldview which makes sense. (Yes, I know millions, maybe even billions, of human beings are entirely capable of believing that death is The End, No Ifs, Ands, Buts, Afterlives, Resurrections, Or Reincarnations without becoming nihilists. However, I am not one of those people.)

    Perhaps I should be grateful that I never achieved any great degree of material success, or I might have succumbed to the temptation to vote Republican, in order to keep my taxes low–and just maybe imperiled my immortal soul.

  3. Excellent essay, Riverdaughter. It is wonderful that Ms. Spears is finally free. But this was largely because of her fans and her fame.

    In most cases, conservatorships protect the individuals subject to them, such as individuals who truly have dementia. However, I have to wonder how many other competent people, not famous and without a vocal fan base, are subject to this type of abuse. The whole system in California should be reviewed and there should be better safeguards.

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