Britney Spears spoke to a Los Angeles court earlier this week, marking only the second time she's addressed her controversial conservatorship, which has been in place since 2008. Fans were shocked by what she said, but whether the pop star's troubling accusations will actually sway a judge ruling on her case remains to be seen.
Asked what the impact of the emotional nature of Spears' testimony could be, California-based attorney Tamar Arminak, who worked with Amanda Bynes' parents on her conservatorship case and does not have a connection with Spears, told Sunday TODAY, "I'm not sure it's going to sway the judge."
"I think that was probably one of the most painful moments, listening to her voice, because she essentially said she has built this empire ... and that these are, she feels, her jailers that are living off of her money," Arminak added.
In 2008, after Spears' public breakdown the year before, the singer entered into the conservatorship, a legal arrangement when a court finds that an individual can't make their own decisions. Spears' father, Jamie Spears, was put in control of her estate and financial assets, along with an attorney, and he is also in charge of his daughter's basic daily needs.
Legal experts have said that it's extraordinarily difficult to end a conservatorship in the state of California, NBC News Erin McLaughlin reported on Sunday TODAY. A conservatorship is usually prompted by an underlying condition that can't resolve itself, such as dementia, but it's unclear what led to Spears' conservatorship because it's under seal by the court.
What's more, Spears' lawyer Sam Ingham has not filed a petition with the court to end the conservatorship. He told the court Wednesday that his client had not asked him to file a motion seeking to end the conservatorship but he would have done so had she directed him to.
Spears said in her testimony Wednesday that she didn't know beforehand that she could contest the conservatorship, adding that she doesn't believe she needs to be evaluated to determine whether the conservatorship is still necessary. She also accused her conservators of preventing her from removing her IUD because she wants have a baby and said her father made her perform against her will and take lithium, a mood stabilizer, when she complained.
Earlier this year, the pop star's attorneys filed a petition requesting that Jamie Spears resign as conservator. On Wednesday, Jamie Spears' attorney Vivian Thoreen addressed the court, saying her client is "sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."
That her petition to end the conservatorship hasn't been filed will prolong the path to possibly ending the legal arrangement because the pop star will have to wait for another hearing and probably testify again before a judge could rule on it, lawyer Sarah J. Wentz, who specializes in conservatorships, told Variety.
"The only way there would be a quick ruling is if the conservators agree jointly that now is the time to terminate," Wentz explained. "If they contest it, it will basically be a trial where each side presents evidence to show why it’s needed or why it’s not needed. That can be an extensive process."
She added that such trials can take years and that she believes this case would likely require a high number of depositions.
"It’s going be hard to prove some of the things that she’s saying, but there could be caregivers who witnessed a lot of this stuff and could corroborate her statements," Wentz said. "If there is a termination petition filed and it is opposed, I think this will be a long, drawn-out battle because over 13 years, there are a lot of witnesses that they would want to depose to use as evidence."