The Britney Spears Conservatorship legal battle has taken some interesting twists and turns. I discussed some of them in my prior post about the case, including the attorney who claimed he had been hired by Spears to fight her father in court. This lawyer, Jon Eardley, told the court that Britney's father, Jamie Spears, was wrongly controlling her and that she should have her legal rights to make her own financial decisions returned to her.
Not only did Eardley lose, but Jamie Spears sought the extraordinary step of a restraining order against the attorney, seeking to protect Britney from him for years. Yesterday, this request was granted. A California judge issued an order preventing Eardley from trying to take any action on her behalf, including filing legal pleadings for her. He was also ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from her and her kids, and refrain from all contact. Eonline obtained a copy of the restraining order, which you can read here.
Eardley had tried -- unsuccessfully -- to force Britney to appear at the court hearing to help him defend against the restraining order request. He argued that if she was well enough go on tour, she could appear in court and support his claim that she voluntarily hired him.
Eardley was not the only target of the restraining order. Britney's father/conservator also successfully obtained the same restraining order against her former manager, Sam Lutfi, who had previously admitted to hiding drugs in her food. Lutfi also fought hard against the order, even suing Britney in a separate lawsuit claiming defamation, assault and (of course) that she owed him money. Lufti too claimed that Britney's father was overly controlling and mismanaging her fortune.
Despite these attacks, Jamie Spears remains firmly in control as Britney's Conservator. With his help, Britney's career has been resurrected. Guardianship and conservatorship proceedings do serve important roles in our society, allowing those who cannot manage their own affairs due to age, incapacity or disability to have someone appointed to make decisions for them. But, of course, this protection comes at a great cost -- taking away the people's basic rights to decide how to live their own lives.
It's rare to have this situation arise for someone as young as Britney; it is quite common for elderly men and women. In both instances, interesting questions often arise about when help is necessary. When do people become incapable of managing their affairs -- or in need of protection of the unscrupulous connivers of the world (which the judge obviously feels Eardley and Lufti are)? When are those claimed to be in need of help entitled to be free to live their own lives without court intervention? Sometimes it's hard to tell.
Those difficult cases are the ones when families especially need good guardian and conservator attorneys on their side.
Posted by: Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law. You can email him at awmayoras @ brmmlaw.com.Follow us on Google+