In February 2008, after over a year of erratic and unstable behavior by Britney Spears, Los Angeles Commissioner Reva Goetz granted her father, Jamie Spears — and a group of entertainment lawyers — a temporary conservatorship over her person and estate.
A [conservator is a] court-appointed custodian for a needy adult. Often this comprises two distinct roles: As “conservator of estate,” he manages his ward’s financial assets by paying bills, filing taxes, making investments, and directing any contract negotiations; as “conservator of person,” he assumes responsibility over his dependent’s access to food, clothing, housing, and medical care. Usually, the guardian is a relative (a spouse, parent, or sibling), but sometimes a lawyer or other professional steps in to supervise money matters.
A would-be conservator must convince a judge that his prospective ward is “incapacitated”—that he or she lacks the ability to meet essential requirements for health and safety without assistance. For instance, a husband could become his wife’s guardian if she had advanced Alzheimer’s; a parent may act as conservator for a developmentally disabled child. Poor judgment alone, like dating a paparazzo when you’re a celebrity, is not sufficient cause. Courts may also grant conservatorship in cases of “undue influence,” like if someone joins a cult and is in serious need of deprogramming.
This drastic course of action was widely applauded in the media and by fans, most of whom were hearing the word ‘conservatorship’ for the first time. Within months, Britney was preparing for her comeback album, Circus, and the world tour that would follow. The conservatorship was set to expire on December 31st, 2008.
Given that she was able to successfully record an album, grant public interviews to major radio stations, and prepare for the strain of a year-long, international tour, one would expect that the conservatorship — designed, ideally, for gravely incapacitated individuals — would have been lifted at that point, as according to plan, no?
Britney Spears’ father will maintain indefinite control of her personal and financial affairs after a court commissioner on Tuesday extended the arrangement beyond 2008.
The conservatorship, which had been set to expire Dec. 31, also allows the people controlling Spears’ affairs — a group that includes father Jamie Spears and several attorneys — some say in her professional career.
It’s a move the singer apparently approves: A court-appointed attorney said the details had been explained to the 26-year-old and she agreed not to oppose it.
Spears could petition later to have the conservatorship removed, but the court’s order otherwise constitutes a lifetime arrangement, a court information officer said. Attorneys for Jamie Spears declined to comment after the hearing.
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz said she was granting the permanent conservatorship in part because Britney Spears has shown she is “susceptible to undue influence.”
Based on the attorneys’ recommendations and other evaluations of the singer, Goetz said making conservatorship permanent was “necessary and appropriate.”
Did Britney, in fact, approve of the arrangement, as Team Conservatorship would have us believe?
Around this time, Rolling Stone writer Jenny Eliscu — who interviewed Britney for her comeback and was shocked at the hoops she had to jump through to ask her the simplest questions — discussed Britney’s view of the conservatorship inthese terms:
Anyway, I had done some preliminary research into it, but I was not yet aware how hard Britney had tried to fight it initially and why. As my research progressed, it started to become clear to me that this might not be something that should still be in place. Because it is designed, ideally, to protect people who are seriously ill. We’re talking about people who are non compos mentis, according to the lawyers I consulted. Or they’re in a vegetative state. Or they’re just so old that they can’t take care of themselves anymore. But Britney? It was making less and less sense as time went on…it wasn’t until after my last meeting with her that I realized how far beyond the scope of my interview this level of control extended into all facets of her life…
In the MTV documentary “For the Record,” Britney likened the conservatorship to a prison and is seen crying over its emotional effects. The quote most famous amongst fans is reproduced in full at the top of this website’s header.
Some saw this coming. Lawyer Jon Eardley penned this letter to Britney three days before her second involuntary psychiatric commitment (excerpts, emphasis ours):
I had not been paying much attention to your case, until the LAPD and your ex-husband’s lawyer conspired to have you falsely arrested and thrown into a 72-hour involuntary lock-down at Cedars.”
“You may not be aware of the fact that your civil rights were violated pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 et al.… as a result of these actions and the significant implications of those actions with respect to our custody case.”
“After having practiced law for years in Los Angeles, I find myself, at many times sickened by the corruption of the downtown court system. However, your case is the worst I have ever seen because they are unabated in the systematic destruction of your character and reputation; and they will not be happy until they have denied you your freedom and milked you for your last dime. The custody case, as you know, is nothing more than a flat out extortion scheme, with your children being used as pawns.”
“When the LAPD forced their way into your house for not handing your children over to a “bodyguard” of your ex-husband, they had no probable cause to search and seize your home, or to make any such entry..”
“Commissioner Gordon… was quick to deny you all of your visitation rights, even before Cedars issued its evaluation that you were not under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol.”
“Commissioner Gordon clearly is biased against you. He is clearly accepting media reports as evidence; additionally, he is considering declarations provided by Kaplan, based upon Kaplan’s knowledge of things and events that he unlawfully obtained at your house.”
“…Your case will continue to spiral until they have denied you your freedom, your children and your assets.”
“Please recognize that aside from some anxiety and depression, which are totally normal under these circumstances, there is nothing wrong with you. but that the court system routinely engages in character assassination to conceal its internal bias and to break you down… What they ultimately want is to get you into a conservatorship; at that point, your freedom will be denied, giving them the full opportunity to steal all of your money and to deny you any access to your children.”
After Eardley’s prophecy came to fruition (“It is worth noting that there has not even been a ‘show trial’ for Ms. Spears,” Eardley said in court papers), he attempted to take the matter to federal court:
The suit also alleges Britney “is being confined by the conservator to the private prison of her own home…Ms. Spears has been denied the right to associate freely with her friends. She has been denied the right to make or receive telephone calls. She has been denied the right to operate a motor vehicle and must be accompanied by security guards in public, whether in a motor vehicle or on foot. She has been denied the right to receive or send mail.”
His filing was not only denied — for the grave sin of attempting to combat the conservatorship, Jon Eardley was alsoslapped with a three-year restraining order by Judge Aviva K. Bobb, at the request of Team Conservatorship. For attempting to break open the case — the conservatorship that Britney likened to a prison — Jamie Spears and his lawyers argued that Eardley caused Britney “substantial emotional distress”:
The papers…alleged that the three men [including Eardley] were “working in concert to disrupt the conservatorship, with an utter disregard for Ms. Spears’ health and well being.”
…Goodness, we wouldn’t want that, would we?
The other men hit with restraining orders were paparazzo Adnan Ghalib and former manager Sam Lutfi, the latter of whom was working with Eardley. The extent of the negative influence by those two men (who are not merely two heads of the same person) can be debated — but two points stand: (1) If Britney is truly highly distressed by them, there are mechanisms outside of a conservatorship through which she can accomplish the goal of purging them from her life, (2) Jon Eardley and Sam Lutfi were fighting for the proper end-goal: Britney’s civil liberties.
Judge Aviva K. Bobb retired from the bench at a curiously young age shortly after issuing the restraining orders. Britney’s case is not the only one in which Judge Bobb’s inattention to detail has ended in tragic results — ones much worse, even, than the denial of freedom. They are detailed at the previous link. (Interestingly, Bobb also oversaw a conservatorship placed for actor Peter Falk, who suffered from the advanced stages of dementia, resulting from Alzheimer’s disease — what a conservatorship is actually meant for. But we digress.)
Despite alleged “substantial emotional distress,” a voicemail supposedly of Britney was left to Lawyer Eardley in 2009:
We cannot authenticate these voicemails, and debate rages amongst fans as to their legitimacy — but if they are real, they provide penetrating insight into why Britney has spoken of the conservatorship as a prison — and why she’s afraid to fight it.
As time went on, Britney successfully completed a grueling international tour, shot multiple music videos, demonstrated commendable parenting skills, maintained a steady, stable relationship with a decent man, and was in the process of recording her seventh studio album. After nearly three years of being subject to a conservatorship — and demonstrating upstanding behavior — surely it would end, yes?
A judge in Los Angeles Thursday announced that the conservatorship involving Britney Spears’ vast estate will continue as is – at least for the time being.
After meeting separately in closed chambers with both Spears and with her father Jamie – who controls his daughter’s personal and financial matters- Judge Reva Goetz said in open court, “I met with him (Jamie) and her (Britney) spearately. I had a very nice conversation with her. Mr. Ingham (Britney’s [court-appointed] attorney) was present.”
And just this year — yes, over three years into the conservatorship — it has beenreportedthat it won’t be ending this year:
[T]he pop star remains under conservatorship…RadarOnline has exclusively learned that won’t change this year…
A source close to the situation tells RadarOnline.com exclusively: “The conservatorship won’t be ending this year because everything is going well.
Radar Online’s “source” justifies this by saying that Jamie only wants what is best for his “little girl” — his thirty-year-old little girl.
In early 2011, Brand Sense, a marketing company associated with Britney Brands, Inc., sued Britney for breach of contract. The details of the case are immaterial to this point: they insisted that Britney herself be deposed to testify on her own behalf during evidence-gathering procedures.
Reva Goetz — now a judge — had previously ruled against allowing Britney to be deposed, but Brand Sense didn’t back down.
The court documents filed by Brand Sense contain this scathing indictment of the legitimacy of the conservatorship:
“Brand Sense intends to seek immediate relief from the probate court’s order. The notion that Britney Spears is mentally or emotionally unfit to testify under oath is a sham. Ms. Spears currently has the mental, emotional and physical capacity to endure the strain of a months-long international concert tour, make numerous public appearances, engage in interviews with the media, participate in numerous promotional campaigns for her various business enterprises, and maintain custody of her children.”
A hearing was set for July 11, 2011 to determine if Britney would be ordered to be deposed, and she was once again denied the ability to testify.
Brand Sense wants the documents of the case unsealed merely to justify the reason for her not being able to testify. The fact that the documents are sealed is an extraordinary measure — one that, as Brand Sense points out in court documents, runs in the face of legal precedent — and the American principle of transparent courts.
Judge Goetz has faced increased scrutiny recently, having been involved in a numerous amount of suspicious cases. She was recently disqualified from judging Courtney Love’s guardianship, after being judged by higher courts to have demonstrated clear bias against Love.
Remember the hoops that Jenny Eliscu had to jump through to ask Britney the most basic of questions in an interview for Rolling Stone?
They came back for the Femme Fatale era, as MTV icon Carson Daly — a Britney fan since the beginning — described the outrageous restraints placed upon him in securing an innocuous interview:
You can try Till the World Ends, but you won’t be getting a live, unedited interview with Britney Spears—even if you’ve known her for approximately half her life.
Carson Daly, who first met the now-29-year-old Spears nearly a decade and a half ago during their mutual pre-TRL days, ripped into her management team on his personal Twitter after being asked to pre-tape an interview with her (standard practice right now for the star, who has primarily been conducting interviews via email), and then submit it for approval and editing before air.
In a series of frustrated tweets he wrote:
“I was jst TOLD my @britneyspears interview tomm on @ampradio MUST b pre-recorded & submitted 4 approval by HER mgmt b4 it can air! F THAT!”
never that restricted. Even when I interviewed Michael Jackson, it wasn’t anything like this…it’s really insane.
And to a fellow tweeter who called him an “unprofessional a–hole,” he replied:
I’M UNPROFESSIONAL? FAKING AN ENTIRE INTERVIEW?
jst shocked her mgmt won’t let her do a normal interview. She probly doesn’t even know.
I’ve known and supported her since she was 15. This has nothing to do w her. Just her ppl.
And as demonstrated in so many of her live performances and interviews over the past few years, much of Britney’s passion has been sapped by the machine she’d always hated. Britney is a beautiful soul with a big heart and astounding resilience. But she is a free spirit, and that is being stifled. Fans have noticed a ‘deadness’ in her eyes since her big comeback, as well as a noticeable decline in the passion she injects into her dancing.
Well, what do you expect? To undergo the humiliation and shame of being deemed by a corrupt judge to be a completely incompetent, unfit individual, and to have your life’s earnings — as well as your very person — handed over to your estranged father — would do that to you.
Britney, sadly, is not in a position to fight for herself. As fans — and, more importantly, as citizens — we must fight on her behalf.
Questions? Objections? Check out FreeBritney.com’s FAQ page.
This very emotional FreeBritney.com video with many quotes from Britney pretty much sums up everything we’re fighting for. Join the fight too! FREE BRITNEY!
August 28th, 2011
Guardianship and Conservatorship and Special Needs Trusts are a type of prison that are by and large unknown and not believed possible in American.
My own mother, Silvia Bush Tessadri, was forced on unecessary guardianship, conservatorship and trust as these are excuses to steal estates. My mother, Siliva Bush Tessadri is competent and Dr. Patrick Roney testified on October 27, 2004 that she had no dimentia and he was ignored by Judge Stephen Munsinger. Judge Munsinger denied her right, according to Colorado statute 15-14-306 four times, since then to an unbiased evaluation by a real doctor.
After her entire estate of $1 Million was stolen from her by the guardian, conservator and trustee, they all quit and got immunity by Judge Stephen Munsinger in the summer of 2010, during which Judge Munsinger denied due process and court access to anybody who tried to present evidence of guardian, conservator and trustee’s crimes, which include drugging with the elder killer drug Zyprexa.