LOS ANGELES (AP) — Britney Spears
' powerful request to a judge
to end the conservatorship
that has governed her life since 2008 elicited sympathy and outrage from fans
, famous supporters, and even casual observers who believe she deserves independence.
Lawyers who deal
with such cases, however, say the speech may not have helped her in the long and arduous legal process.
“When Britney spoke, I mean, the entire world listened. This was incredible,” family
law attorney Peter Walzer said. “Now, whether the judge will buy it, whether the judge will let her out of her conservatorship, my bet is no.”
Spears' passionate, at times emotional address to Los Angeles Superior Court
Judge Brenda Penny on Wednesday was the first time in 13 years she spoke in open court about the conservatorship, which she called "abusive" and "stupid."
In an Instagram
post on Thursday, Spears apologized for "pretending like I've been ok for the past two years."
“I did it because I was embarrassed to share what had happened to me,” she explained, later adding, “Believe it or not, pretending that I'm fine
has actually helped.”
View this Instagram post Britney Spears (@britneyspears) shared this post.
Spears testified in court that she is forced to use an intrauterine device for birth control and take other medications, that she is barred from marrying or having another child
, and that she is not allowed to have her own money
, which she blamed on her father and others in power.
The speech was compelling for the same reasons it may be problematic for the court: she spoke quickly, often profanely, and appeared out of control as she rattled off injustices and the emotional turmoil they have caused her.
“It just seems to me that her presentation to her court didn’t do herself any favors,” said David Glass, a family law attorney with a doctorate in psychology. “The words came out like bullets. She shifted rapidly between thoughts and ideas. She also admitted to being depressed and crying all the time. I’m not her psychologist, but these are things that potentially point to being in the middle of m,” he added.
Penny didn't say much about the dramatic presentation, other than to say Spears' speech was "courageous." It's unclear how much the judge has already heard, either during Spears' previous addresses to the court in closed sessions or in the numerous sealed documents filed in the case.
“The court did not say, ‘I disagree with you,’ or ‘I am concerned for you,’ or ‘I am disappointed these issues were not brought before me previously,’” Glass explained.
Penny appears to take Spears' opinions into account when making decisions.
Penny recently appointed estate-management firm the Bessemer Trust as co-conservator of Spears' finances, but kept her father James Spears as its co-conservator against her wishes; and since Spears pushed for greater transparency in the case last year, Penny has been keeping court hearings like Wednesday's increasingly public and leaving more documents unsealed.
Penny may modify the conservatorship to make it more appealing to Spears, and she may order an immediate investigation
into some of the allegations.
“I’m concerned if I’m the judge,” said Sarah Wentz, an estates and conservatorships attorney. “I’m going to find out ASAP if there are things we need to review or correct, so the court can determine if there are no human rights
Penny has plenty of leeway in making changes that do not result in the conservatorship being terminated entirely.
“What they can do is try to put together a plan that meets her goals and wishes in every way possible, so she only has a few things that she needs to check in on,” Wentz said, adding that it does not have to be an all-in kind of thing.
Spears' court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, said that despite his client's pleas to Penny to end the conservatorship, she has yet to even ask him to file a petition to do so, and that he made no attempt to "control, filter, or edit" his client's words before the presentation Wednesday.
That most likely meant that, while he felt obligated to forward Spears' request to speak, he did not necessarily agree with her strategy.
“This is why lawyers don’t like it when their clients speak a lot,” family law attorney Chris Melcher explained. “We know what to say and how to say it. Sometimes what the client says can really come back to bite them and end up proving the other side’s case.”
A different approach, according to Melcher, could have been more effective.
“I believe a calm demeanor, acknowledgement of her past problems, and acceptance of the court’s previous decisions would be best for her,” he said.
That was the approach taken by Ingham in recent filings for Spears, which attempted to get her father removed and assert more control, acknowledging that the conservatorship had done a lot of good in its early days while arguing for change and saying she reserved the right to end it eventually.
The conservatorship will not be terminated without further evaluation of Spears, as she requested.
A petition to end the conservatorship, which Ingham said he may file soon, would be just the start of a process that would put the onus on Spears to demonstrate her competence.
“It is up to Britney or another interested party to persuade the court that it needs to end,” Melcher said, adding that “this is not a voluntary process in which she can simply walk out the door.”
Amanda Lee Myers, an Associated Press writer
, contributed reporting.