LOS ANGELES - An attorney who claims to represent Britney Spears has filed papers to move her conservatorship case from the Los Angeles County Superior Court to federal court, but legal experts question whether his legal strategy is viable and whether he can represent the troubled pop star at all.
In a document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, attorney Jon Eardley writes that Spears has not "received the benefit of a single hearing before the court," and "is being confined by the conservator to the private prison of her own home," in violation of her civil rights.
After more than a year of bizarre behavior and two stints in a psychiatric hospital this year, Spears was placed under a conservatorship by a Superior Court commissioner at the beginning of February. Conservatorships are established when a court determines someone cannot take care of themselves or their affairs.
In his federal court filing, Eardley asks "whether an adult child may be subjected by her parents to their complete and total control" and claims her conservators - her father, James Spears, and attorney Andrew Wallet - control what prescription medications she takes.
Calls for comment to Eardley's phone numbers in Washington, D.C., Jericho, N.Y., and Whittier, Calif. were not returned on Thursday or Friday.
Commissioner Reva Goetz has found that under the terms of the conservatorship, Britney Spears lacks the capacity to hire her own lawyer without the approval of her conservators.
Another attorney, Adam Streisand, unsuccessfully sought to represent the singer during a probate hearing Feb. 4 when he argued that she told him by phone that she wanted her father removed as conservator.
Legal experts were doubtful that Eardley's bid to remove the case to federal court would succeed.
"Anyone who's under a conservatorship can argue that they've lost their civil rights," said Peter Tiersma, a law professor who teaches trusts and wills at Loyola Law School. "That's what a conservatorship does, it takes away some of your rights."
If the federal court were to take jurisdiction of the Spears case, said Tiersma, "that would mean that anyone under a conservatorship could do this, and that's a loophole you could drive a truck through."
Family law attorney Alexandra Leichter said the existing orders in the case, including Goetz's decision that the pop star cannot retain counsel, will stand until a district court rules on whether it will take the case, which she said is highly unlikely.
"This is strictly a state matter. The fed court will not take jurisdiction of this case. That is so far-fetched and off the wall," said Leichter. "They'll laugh them out of court."
Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini would not comment on the federal court filing.
"All current orders in this matter remain in full force and effect," he said.
The filing was delivered to the Superior Court by Michael Sands, a publicist who says he represents Britney Spears' sometime manager and friend, Sam Lutfi. Until recently, Sands worked for an attorney who represents the singer's ex-husband Kevin Federline in a custody dispute over their two young sons.