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How Free Is Britney Spears Now?

Let’s take a step back and examine what Jamie actually said in his court papers to Judge Brenda Penny on Thursday. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Shutterstock and Getty Images

On Thursday, August 12, news broke that after 13 years of overseeing Britney Spears’s conservatorship, allegedly with an iron fist, her father, James “Jamie” Spears, is preparing to step down. Britney was photographed later that day driving around in her white Mercedes alone, an act of independence that she testified in June hasn’t been afforded to her for many, many years. Does this signal the end of her conservatorship?

Several outlets declared that James, 69, was officially out of managing her life and #FreeBritney supporters rejoiced. Britney’s new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, stated after the filing, “This is a major victory for Britney Spears and another step toward justice.” But James’s August 12 court filing reveals that her father actually isn’t going down without a fight.

Let’s take a step back and examine what James actually said in his court papers to Judge Brenda Penny.

James is actually opposing Britney’s request to immediately remove him.

Britney’s father is asking the judge to deny his daughter’s request to immediately suspend and remove him from the role in her conservatorship that places him in charge of her finances. He plans to contest the petition for his removal at the next court hearing on September 29.

Though, he also said that he does plan on leaving that role and intends to work with Britney’s new and self-chosen attorney, Mathew Rosengart, to “prepare for an orderly transition to a new conservator.” James argues that “there are no urgent circumstances justifying [his] immediate suspension.”

He accused Britney’s mother of having “little if any involvement” in their daughter’s life for the past 13 years.

Britney has avoided speaking to her mother Lynne, 66, for “most of her adult life,” according to James’s legal papers. Except that he said that Britney “paid and continues to pay for the mansion in Louisiana where Lynne lives, including all of her utility bills, weekly maid service, and all maintenance (totaling upward of $150,000 per year and, to date, nearly $2,000,000 in total).” He accuses Lynne of exploiting “their daughter’s pain and trauma” for personal profit by publishing a book about her. Lynne recently filed papers to Judge Penny supporting Britney’s request for James’s immediate removal, saying that Britney and James’s relationship has “dwindled to nothing but fear and hatred” because of his alleged conservatorship abuse.

Lynne’s attorney, Gladstone N. Jones III, released this statement in response:

“Lynne Spears is pleased Jamie has agreed to step down. Lynne entered into this conservatorship to protect her daughter almost 3 years ago. She has accomplished what she set out to do. She will have no further comment.”

He denies forcing Britney to take medication.

James said he has been cut off from having access to Britney’s medical information, treatment, and the medications she takes since September 2019. He also said that it was Britney who personally selected Dr. Timothy Benson to be her psychiatrist and not him. (Note: Britney said in court she got down on her knees and thanked God when she learned Dr. Benson suddenly died in August 2019.) He said that any medication given was part of a care developed by Dr. Benson and Britney’s co-conservator over of her person, Jodi Montgomery, and was approved by Britney’s medical team and Britney’s then-court-appointed attorney Sam Ingham.

During Britney’s “time of crisis,” it was Jodi Montgomery, Dr. Benson, and other medical professionals, with the “ongoing approval of Sam Ingham,” who handled Britney’s care, according to James’s court filing. James said during that time he was dealing with his own significant health issue that included a “major, life-threatening surgery.”

James said Britney wasn’t put into a rehab program against her will, nor was she forbidden from leaving.

James alleges that it was Jodi Montgomery and Britney’s former attorney Sam Ingham who admitted Britney into the facility and signed her admittance documents. He also said that Britney approved her treatment plan and entered the Bridges facility, according to James’s court filing. He claims that Britney was not locked in the facility but was free to come and go as she wanted as long as she notified the facility in advance.

He claims that she actually left to visit her boyfriend on the weekends and to tend to personal appointments. Her two children even visited her in the facility, he says; she had a cellphone and was “free to use it, except when in sessions,” the filing the continues. Britney, however, refused Lynne’s request to visit her at the facility, “even as Ms. Spears welcomed other visitors,” according to James’s court papers.

Jodi has denied James’s allegations against her: “It is unequivocally NOT TRUE that it was Ms. Montgomery and Sam Ingham ‘who admitted Ms. Spears to a facility in early 2019.’” In fact, “that would have been impossible,” Jodi’s attorney, Lauriann Wright, said in a statement on her behalf. Wright pointed out that neither Britney’s case manager nor a court-appointed counsel could have had that power, either working alone or together. “Only the Conservator of the Person would have had that power (with the Conservatee’s consent) — and, again, that was Jamie Spears in March 2019,” Wright said. She admits, though, that Jodi might have signed routine paperwork for the facility, but that she only did so as a case manager and only at the direction of James Spears.

He does admit to tapping Britney’s household staff and security to keep close tabs on his daughter.

“The reality is that Ms. Spears is under a Conservatorship, which means she is under the care and supervision of others, personally and financially,” according to James’s court filing. James said he needs to be constantly informed because, given her “medical issues and celebrity status, problems can and do arise at any moment.”

James denies that Britney was ever forced to perform.

Hitting back against one of his daughter’s biggest accusations, James says he never coerced Britney into doing anything. “[Britney] is strong and stands up for what she wants,” according to James’s court filing. He admits, though, that his role has meant telling that Britney she had to follow through on agreements or promises. He does not classify that as coercion, but “it is the type of good advice that a conservator, or a father, must give.” He says he presented her with the opportunities and made sure she understood the obligations required before he “pursued them on her behalf.”

He accused Jodi Montgomery of discussing putting Britney in 5150 psychiatric hold as recently as last month.

James said in a declaration submitted to the court on August 8 that Montgomery called him on July 9 and said she was worried about the direction Britney was heading in and asked for his help. He said that Montgomery told him that Britney was refusing to see some of her doctors and not taking her medication properly. “After Ms. Montgomery shared her detailed concerns about my daughter’s recent behavior, safety, and overall health, she raised potential options, including a 5150 psychiatric hold, which raised my concerns,” James said. (Under California law, the 5150 code authorizes the police or a medical-treatment professional to hold a person suffering from a mental-health disorder who is considered a danger to themselves or others for evaluation and treatment for up to 72 hours. )

Montgomery admits that she does have concerns about Britney’s “recent behavior and overall mental health,” according to a statement released by her lawyer, Lauriann Wright. But she said James “misrepresents what Ms. Montgomery said to him in relation to a potential 5150 psychiatric hold for Ms. Spears. At no time did Ms. Montgomery express to Mr. Spears that Ms. Spears would currently qualify for such a hold.” She says that she instead was merely concerned that forcing Britney to take the stand to testify or to have her evaluated would “move the needle in the wrong direction for her mental health.”

Jodi also points out in a declaration signed on July 22 that she is only currently serving as the temporary conservator of Britney’s person. She said there is currently a petition pending so that she could permanently replace Jamie as conservator but that he has “yet to execute a resignation of his role as conservator of the person.”

James said the public does not know all the facts.

He said he knows that “there will be no public redemption” for him, but he is fine with it. James’s court papers state that while it is “highly debatable” that him stepping down at this time would be in Britney’s best interest, he knows that a public battle with his daughter would clearly not be in her best interest, either. He plans to facilitate an “orderly transition” to a new conservator of Britney’s finances and estate. He said he would be in a position to step aside when pending matters, like accounting, are resolved.

“Regardless of his formal title, Mr. Spears will always be Ms. Spears’ father, he will always love her unconditionally, and he will always look out for her best interests,” according to James’s papers.

Britney’s court hearing regarding her request to immediately suspend her father from her conservatorship is set for September 29.

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How Free Is Britney Spears Now?