More than two months after Britney Spears finally freed herself from her conservatorship, she’s still dealing with a slew of legal drama. In a California court hearing on Wednesday, her attorney leveled a number of explosive allegations against Spears’ father, Jamie, including that he planted a microphone in her bedroom and spied on her therapy sessions, potentially breaking the law in the process. Spears also sent a cease and desist letter to her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, amid a public feud between the two siblings that’s grown increasingly vicious over the past week, raising the specter of a full-blown lawsuit.
There’s a lot to unpack here. We broke down everything you need to know about Spears’ legal situation, where things stand between her and her family, and what might unfold next.
Why did Britney send Jamie Lynn a cease and desist letter?
On January 12, Jamie Lynn appeared on Good Morning America to promote her new memoir, Things I Should’ve Said. As her interviewer noted, she described her sister as “erratic," "paranoid," and "spiraling” in the book—a fact Britney only discovered when she watched the segment.
The next day, Britney accused Jamie Lynn of exploiting her to sell books on Twitter. That kicked off a week-long, highly public spat between the two sisters, who lobbed Notes-app screeds at one another online. Jamie Lynn claimed that she and her family were getting death threats because of Britney’s “vague and accusatory posts.” At a certain point, Britney called her sister “scum.” Appearing on the podcast Call Her Daddy, Jamie Lynn alleged that Britney once locked the two of them in a room with a knife—an event Britney said never happened.
On Monday, Britney’s attorney, Mathew S. Rosengart, sent Jamie Lynn a cease and desist letter accusing her of making “potentially unlawful and defamatory” claims about Britney, and urged her to stop “referencing Britney derogatorily” in the course of promoting her book. “If you fail to do so or defame her,” he wrote, according to Variety, “Britney will be forced to consider and take all appropriate legal action.”
On Wednesday, Jamie Lynn’s attorney, Bryan J. Freedman, responded with a letter of his own. He called the cease and desist letter “not only insensitive but not supported by the law,” and wrote that it wouldn’t stop Jamie Lynn from “telling the truth and denying the allegations against her." That leaves the ball in Britney’s court: She can either let things lie, or file a defamation lawsuit against her sister.
What happened during Britney and her dad’s court hearing?
Though Britney brought an end to her conservatorship in November, after nearly 14 years, there are still a few loose ends she needs to tie up, primarily, whether she’ll have to cover several months of her dad’s legal fees, or whether he’ll pay for them himself. Jamie’s legal costs came out of Britney’s estate when he served as her conservator; after he was suspended from that role in September, he petitioned to force Britney to continue to cover his court costs as the conservatorship wound down. Over the past few months, he’s racked up a multi-million dollar tab, according to Billboard.
In court on Wednesday, Rosengart argued that Britney shouldn’t get stuck with that bill—in part because Jamie allegedly exploited her estate for years. As Variety reports, Rosengart pointed to a declaration from Sherine Edabi, a former special agent for the FBI he hired to investigate how Jamie handled his daughter’s finances, and who corroborated a number of allegations previously reported by the New York Times. According to Edabi’s findings, Jamie paid roughly $6 million from Britney’s estate to Black Box Security, a firm that allegedly monitored Britney’s phone, obtained communications between her and her attorney, and planted a microphone in her bedroom. Jamie also allegedly asked Black Box to send him Britney’s “therapy notes” from her iCloud account, according to the New York Times. Edabi’s declaration includes a long list of other alleged offenses, from self-dealing to using his daughter’s money to pay for other people’s legal fees.
Jamie’s attorney, Alex Weingarten, denied all of those claims in court on Wednesday, describing them as “demonstratively false or taken out of context,” Variety reports. Weingarten also asked to set aside a portion of Britney’s money to make sure that—if she winds up on the hook for her dad’s legal fees—she’ll have the cash to cover them. Judge Brenda Penny denied his request, meaning that Britney currently has control over the entirety of her estimated $60 million fortune.
The next big hearing in Britney’s case is scheduled for July 27, when both parties are expected to set a date to go to trial. From there, it’ll be months before the trial begins. No matter the result, either side can appeal, extending the fight even further—meaning that as of now, there’s still no end in sight for the battle over Jamie’s legal fees.
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