This week, Britney Spears’ historic conservatorship testimony shed light upon the injustice that she has endured.
From forced sterilization to strict control of her life and finances, her human rights have been abridged.
Fans are supporting Britney more loudly than ever, verbally excoriating her awful father across social media.
Britney wants to end her conservatorship. Is that really possible?
People spoke to multiple experts on the matter, including a healthcare attorney and two family law attorneys.
It was remarked how unusual it is that someone like Britney Spears would be under a conservatorship at all.
Generally, conservatorships like this are applied to those whose extreme old age has left them unable to function.
When someone cannot identify where they live, let alone pay bills, the idea is to have someone keep their fridge stocked and bills paid.
These are not people who are generally capable of testifying on their own behalf.
In these extreme dementia cases, the person under conservatorship likely would not even understand their situation.
Britney Spears was placed on this conservatorship 13 years ago, when she was in her twenties.
She is now 39 years old.
Generally, someone her age under a conservatorship would have significant developmental disabilities.
Someone with lifelong developmental disabilities or traumatic brain damage might need help managing their day-to-day affairs.
Even then, conservatorship is viewed as the last resort.
Britney is someone who allegedly suffers mental health problems, like millions of other Americans. Her case is very unusual.
According to these experts, it is expected that a conservatee is invited to the first hearing — at least.
This is required by law except in cases where the conservatee’s attorney or doctor waives the invitation.
Conservatees are not required to attend future hearings, but are generally invited to participate.
Also, usually, conservatees are free to speak at any time.
The conservatorship is an important process requiring a great deal of scrutiny, because it involves abridging human rights.
Most judges would want to hear a conservatee speak if they are willing and able.
It is also unusual to see a conservatee subjected to forced sterilization as Britney has been.
It can happen in rare cases, but is generally intended to only apply to those whose mental health struggles put them at great risk.
The experts who spoke on this matter remarked that it is shocking to hear that something like this remains implemented for Britney.
The general rationale for why any form of birth control would be forced upon a conservatee is fairly strict.
The idea is that they would have to be totally unable to care for themselves during pregnancy or unable to respond appropriately during childbirth.
Britney, a mother of two with a boyfriend, an active social media presence, and the clear ability to testify and express herself … does not seem to meet those criteria.
Conservators do not automatically have the authority to force conservatees into secured perimeter facilities.
Similarly, they cannot unilaterally force psychotropic drugs upon the conservatee.
A judge must sign off on this, and this is usually in cases of dementia patients or conservatees with severe mental illness.
The most important question, of course, is whether this horror can end for Britney, as she hopes.
The judge must review all of the evidence.
In this case, this would include the confidential written report of the probate investigator.
This investigator would likely be a licensed social worker.
Their job would be to interview the conservatee alongside all of their family members.
The investigation involves reaching a conclusion and a written recommendation for the judge to review.
For the judge, this is only one piece of evidence among many.
The conservator, the conservatee, various relatives, and anyone else whom the judge asks would then weigh in.
A medical expert’s opinion would almost certainly be involved, despite Britney’s desire to not be (once again) examined or evaluated.
The experts who spoke to people characterized this case as a “black eye” on California’s conservatorship system.
Additionally, Britney’s case was observed to be “scary” — especially given how much wealth and fame Britney has.
If this can happen to someone like Britney, how many others continue to suffer without fans or famous friends or a platform?
An expert referred to this as a “monstrous kind of circumstance.”
Britney wants to skip the evaluation, but the judge will have to determine if there will be an independent review or a standard evaluation.
Judges rarely do so, but there may be enough evidence in this case for the judge to forego the evaluation.
Conservatorships are, according to the law, terminated upon finding that the conservatee hs “regained their capacity.”
The narrative is that they lost the capacity to make their own personal, health, and financial decisions, but have regained it.
Given the usual circumstances in which conservatorships are put into place, this is unusual.
So in order to demonstrate this to the court, Britney would likely be analyzed and evaluated by a psychologist or neuropsychologist.
Britney would simply have to demonstrate her ability to make decisions, understanding the difference between right and wrong, and that she understands what money signifies.
This is a legal case and, as such, there may need to be a written evaluation “proving” Britney’s competence attached to it.
The wheels of justice move slowly, and sometimes court dates can be set half a year from the previous hearing.
Given the injustices that Britney faces and the massive public scrutiny, it doesn’t seem likely that this will happen here.
Britney’s court-appointed attonrey, Sam Ingham, has his work cut out for him.
First, Ingham is going to have to file a petition to terminat the conservatorship.
Britney will have to explain how the conservatorship happened, what treatment she has received, and what has changed.
Additionally, Ingham will take steps — in accordance with Britney’s wishes — to allow her to hire her own private counsel, which she has not been permitted to do.
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