The past few weeks have taught us more about conservatorship than any of us would've otherwise known. But if you aren't familiar with the term, here's a rundown: It's basically a legal guardianship set up for those who do not possess the faculties — whether mental or physical, to manage their affairs, estate, finances, etc. — to do so themselves. Britney Spears is now seeking an end to her conservatorship and recent developments in her case has folks wondering: Who's the judge presiding over it?
Who is the judge in Britney Spears's case?
When word broke out that Britney Spears's request to have her father removed from her conservatorship was denied by a judge, people began slinging out theories all over the internet. Some said it was "not a great day for women," while others insisted that the denial was a gender issue, speculating because the pop star was a woman, she was treated differently for her much-publicized 2007 "mental breakdown."
So it's understandable why so many wanted to know more about the judge presiding over the case: Judge Brenda Penny. She earned her B.A. from the University of Southern California and then went on to the West Los Angeles School of Law, where she obtained a J.D.. Her professional legal career began in 1982 at the law firm of Gronemeier and Baker; seven years later, she'd be made partner.
She must've made a positive impression on both clients and other members of the firm, as she would go on to start her own solo practice in 1994. But that only lasted three years because she was offered another opportunity: Probate Attorney in California's Superior Court. From 2001 until 2014, she worked as an assistant supervising probate attorney before being elected to court commissioner.
After excelling in that position for four years, she'd go on to receive a bench appointment (becoming a judge is a slow, difficult crawl), but it would ultimately work in her benefit. Judge Penny then became the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. She's a registered Democrat and her son is film director Prentice Penny, the executive producer of HBO's long-running series, Insecure. He was also consulting producer for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and a slew of other high profile projects.
Why did Judge Brenda Penny deny Britney Spears's request to remove her father from her conservatorship?
Spears made an emotional appeal to the court on June 23, 2021, asking for her father to be removed from the financial aspect of her conservatorship. The request was filed by Britney's attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III in November of 2020, however, Judge Penny didn't not authorize Jamie Spears's removal from the conservatorship.
Speaking through her attorney, Britney mentioned that she would outright refuse to perform if her father had remained her conservator in the agreement. In February of 2021 however, Judge Penny did allow for wealth management company Bessemer Trust to be a co-conservator for the financial aspects of Britney's agreement. (However, Judge Penny granted Bessemer Trust's request to withdraw from the conservatorship on July 2.)
Although the reasoning behind why Britney's father wasn't removed from her conservatorship wasn't immediately revealed, reports indicate that it may have something to do with the fact that the pop star wasn't aware she could apply to have her conservatorship ended. She told Judge Penny, "I didn't know I could petition the conservatorship to end it. I'm sorry for my ignorance, but I honestly didn't know that."
Britney's next hearing in front of the court is set for July 14, 2021. It could be that Judge Penny denied the request as a "cleaner" solution would ultimately be to just end the conservatorship entirely. Removing her father from it and keeping the agreement in place may require more paperwork/legal i-dotting and t-crossing than just abolishing the conservatorship altogether.
However, this is all speculation at this point. We will update this article accordingly after the July 14, 2021 hearing date occurs.