US pop singer Britney Spears asked a judge Wednesday to end court conservatorship that has controlled her life and money since 2008.
The dramatic request at a hearing in Los Angeles, California came with her first words in open court in the conservatorship during its 13-year existence.
Spears called the conservatorship “abusive,” and condemned her father and the others who have controlled it.
“I just want my life back,” she said. “I’m not here to be anyone’s slave. I’m traumatised. I’m not happy, I can’t sleep,” she added. “I’m so angry and I cry every day.”
“I want to end this conservatorship without being evaluated,” Spears said by phone in a long, emotional and sometimes profane speech, in which she condemned the legal arrangement and her father, who has controlled it for most of its existence.
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she said. “I deserve to have a life.”
The former teen phenomenon said she wanted to get married again and have a baby. But she said she has a contraceptive device that she wants removed, but is not allowed to go to the doctor “because they don’t want me to have children”.
“All I want is to own my money and for this to end and for my boyfriend to be able to drive me in his f***ing car,” Spears said.
In the written speech that lasted more than 20 minutes, Spears revealed many details that have been carefully guarded for years by the court.
When a lawyer representing her co-conservator said the hearing and transcript should be kept sealed if private medical information was to be revealed, Spears shouted her down to say her words should be public.
“They’ve interfered with my life so I feel like it should be an open court hearing and they should listen and hear what I have to say,” Spears said.
She went on to say she was forced to take lithium against her will after rehearsals broke down for a planned Vegas residency in 2019, which was subsequently cancelled.
She said all she had done was disagree with one part of the show’s choreography.
“I’m not here to be anyone’s slave,” she said. “I can say no to a dance move.”
Spears was interrupted once by the judge and once by the court reporter. Both told her to talk slower.
About 100 fans from the so called #FreeBritney movement gathered outside the court before the hearing, holding signs that read “Free Britney now!” and “Get out of Britney’s life!”
The movement and a recent documentary about the singer have peaked public interest in her case.
Spears said she has not felt heard in any of her previous appearances before the court, all of which were kept sealed from the public.
The judge thanked her for her remarks, which she called “courageous,” but made no further comment.
Other lawyers in the room also said this was not the venue for them to respond to the remarks, but agreed they were courageous. The lawyer for James Spears asked for a recess to confer with her client.
Jennifer Preston, 33, crossed the country from Richmond, Virginia, to be outside the hearing because, she says, “I’m a mom and I’m a fan.”
“We’re here to hear what she has to say,” Preston said. “She’s been treated like a child for the last 13 years, she hasn’t had control of her life or her finances, even though she’s clearly capable enough to do those things.”
Her court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, made a request for the pop star to address the court at an April hearing. He said Spears has not officially asked him to file a petition to end the conservatorship.
The conservatorship was put in place as she underwent a mental health crisis in 2008. She has credited it with saving her from financial ruin and keeping her a top-flight pop star.
Her father and his lawyers have emphasised that she and her fortune, which court records put at more than $50m, remain vulnerable to fraud and manipulation. Under the law, the burden would be on Spears to prove she is competent before the case could end.
The case adjourned on Wednesday without a decision.