The case over Britney Spears’ conservatorship goes back to court in Los Angeles today, with a hearing scheduled to start 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.
Both Spears and her father, Jamie, have petitioned the court to end his role in the 13-year conservatorship, after a whirlwind series of recent events. But there are a couple of ways the judge could rule, including denying their petitions, replacing Jamie or terminating the arrangement altogether.
NPR’s Andrew Limbong tells Morning Edition that today’s proceedings will be pretty focused on Jamie’s involvement in his daughter’s estate — he points out that another conservator, Jodi Montgomery, handles issues of Spears’ health and well-being.
Jamie has previously said that he’d consider stepping down, without providing a specific timeline. Spears’ new lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, has argued since his appointment in July that Jamie should be removed immediately.
Spears has said in the past that she found her father intimidating and abusive, and three recent documentaries from The New York Times and Netflix raise more questions about the degree to which she has been controlled and even exploited under the arrangement.
For example, Limbong says, Britney vs. Spears shows how hard those in charge of Spears were working her, noting their financial incentive for putting her on tours and booking her shows. And Controlling Britney Spears alleges that her guardians planted a listening device in her room to record private conversations without consent.
He also notes that while this case is very much about Spears’ future, it also has broader implications: Conservatorship reform advocates are watching it closely, and politicians across the aisle are also paying attention (among other developments, a Senate subcommittee held a hearing yesterday on “toxic conservatorships”).
There’s a lot at stake, and a lot to digest. Check out these recommended reads and listens while you wait:
- Background: Here’s an explainer on how conservatorships work.
- Legal developments: Read Spears’ statement to the court from June about her experience. She was allowed to hire her own lawyer in July, and he quickly requested for a new conservator of her estate. Jamie Spears filed a petition on Sept. 7 to end the conservatorship, and Spears consented with that petition last week.
- Entertainment: NPR’s TV critic, Eric Deggans, walks through what the newest documentaries reveal about Spears’ situation.
- Public support: Read about the increasingly vocal “Free Britney” activist movement. Plus, the creator of the iconic 2007 “Leave Britney Alone” video spoke to NPR about what’s changed.
- Political implications: Lawmakers with drastically different political leanings are expressing support for Spears and moving to advance guardianship and conservatorship reform.
- Commentary: NPR’s Anastasia Tsioulcas sees Spears as the latest victim of the industry machine, and one New York City psychiatrist reminds us that the cost of forced psychiatric care can be “ruinous” for many patients.
Reporting for this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.