Lawyer tries to break conservatorship of Spears
EmptyBritney Spears' father and a lawyer who claims to represent her traded legal barbs Monday in an intensifying fight over whether James Spears is violating her civil rights by controlling her finances and life.
Attorney John Eardley, who told The Associated Press he was the "only person who represents Britney Spears," filed documents in federal court asserting that she is being held by her father in a situation that violates her civil rights.
A lawyer for James Spears said in papers filed Monday that Eardley cannot represent the singer because a probate judge in state court found that Britney Spears "lacks the capacity to hire an attorney, and Mr. Eardley cannot remove the conservatorship proceedings on his own behalf."
The pop star, 26, and her estate were placed under a temporary conservatorship after she was taken to UCLA Medical Center on Jan. 31, her second hospitalization in a month. Conservatorships are granted for people deemed unable to care for themselves or their affairs.
Eardley took aim at James Spears in legal documents filed Friday.
"Mr. Spears has now moved into her house and has taken control of her financial assets, as well as her physical custody, all without the benefit of a hearing where Ms. Spears would be present," he said.
Eardley said that Spears has never been on good terms with her father and said he was "concerned for the emotional and physical safety of Britney under these circumstances."
In his motion, Eardley said Spears had "been in a form of private confinement for nearly a month. Certainly, at this point, it is likely that circumstances have changed and it is time that the conservatee be brought into court for a hearing, where the court can evaluate her in person and hear testimony directly from her."
The document suggests she be allowed to retain her own medical professionals to evaluate her condition.
"There are financial issues which involve the possible misappropriation of assets," Eardley said but did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, attorney Jeffrey Wexler, representing James Spears, filed a response Monday complaining that the effort to move the case to federal court is without legal basis and is draining James Spears financially.
Wexler said that the conservator has already incurred more than $42,898 in legal fees to fight the effort launched by Eardley. Wexler argued the law being cited by Eardley applies only to cases of racial discrimination.
James Spears has asked to send the matter back to state court and to award him attorneys' fees.
In the phone interview Eardley said he had filed additional documents under seal Monday and expected a hearing to be set soon.
Asked when he last consulted with Britney Spears, Eardley said, "I talked to her a few days ago and someone wrestled the phone away from her. I've not talked to her since then."