The ACLU on Tuesday filed an amicus brief in support of Britney Spears as the pop star attempts to free herself from a 13-year conservatorship she called “abusive” in testimony last month.
The ACLU filed the brief, along with 25 civil and disability organizations, in support of Spears’ wish to choose her own attorney, which is prohibited by the conservatorship. Spears’ court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, resigned from the case last week. The brief, filed with the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, also calls for her to be given access to assistance and tools to make her selection for his replacement.
“Britney Spears has said that she wants to pick her own lawyer and the court should respect that wish,” Zoë Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, said in a Tuesday statement. “The court should ensure Spears has access to the tools she needs to make that choice meaningfully and to hire someone she trusts to advocate for her stated goal: to get out of her conservatorship. Spears’s right to select an attorney is not only a basic tenet of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, but also consistent with principles of personal autonomy and agency. The California Superior Court must recognize Spears’s autonomy and the rights of people with disabilities to live independent, self-directed lives as active members of their communities.”
Amanda Goad, the Audrey Irmas director of the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU SoCal, added, “Britney’s superstardom and wealth make this an atypical case, but she has described serious infringements on her civil liberties and dignity that are all too typical for people living under conservatorships and guardianships. It’s not just about Britney. We hope that offering supported decision-making to Britney Spears can serve as a model in other cases, because all people living with disabilities or under conservatorship deserve an opportunity to make their own informed choices.”
Ingham was the latest in the team of people surrounding Spears to leave his post following her jarring and emotional testimony given to a Los Angeles court on June 23. Last week, Spears’ longtime manager Larry Rudolph wrote a letter to the pop star’s co-conservators, Jamie Spears and Jodi Montgomery, announcing his resignation.