Her conservatorship reentered the public spotlight recently with the release of “Framing Britney Spears,” a documentary about the controversial conservatorship controlled by her father.
Spears has been under her father’s conservatorship since 2008. In court papers obtained by US Weekly last year, Spears’s attorney said she was “strongly opposed” to her father “continuing as the sole conservator of her estate.”
“If the conservatorship process can rip the agency from a woman who was in the prime of her life and one of the most powerful pop stars in the world, imagine what it can do to people who are less powerful and have less of a voice. I’ve heard the story of those people in Florida, and I am concerned about access to due process for wards,” Gaetz said in a statement.
In their letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Gaetz and Jordan cite a project funded by the Department of Justice that concluded that “financial exploitation by conservators often goes unchecked by courts,” and there is a “dire need for guardianship/conservatorship reform.” The project, by the National Center for State Courts, reviewed publicly reported cases of conservatorship exploitation, finding that most cases involved older people.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also recently expressed concern about conservatorships in light of Spears’s case.
“While we do not know the details of Spears’ conservatorship, in general, conservators like those in her case have the ability to make decisions about all aspects of her life—where she lives, where and how she spends her money, what medications she takes, who she spends time with, and other decisions,” Zoe Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, said in a question-and-answer post on the ACLU website.
Jamie Spears, the pop star’s father, has said that he wants nothing more than for his daughter to “not need a conservatorship.” The father’s attorney recently said he has never been involved in a case in which a conservatee “successfully terminated a conservatorship.”
Gaetz and Jordan state in their letter: “Ms. Spears is not alone. There are countless other Americans unjustly stripped of their freedoms by others with little recourse.
“For example, Long Island resident Daniel Gross was forced against his will into a conservatorship after being hospitalized with cellulitis while visiting his daughter in Connecticut. In what the judge labeled as ‘a terrible miscarriage of justice,’ Mr. Gross was locked in a Connecticut nursing home for 10 months despite his pleas for release.
“Given the constitutional freedoms at stake and opaqueness of these arrangements, it is incumbent upon our Committee to convene a hearing to examine whether Americans are trapped unjustly in conservatorships.”
Nadler’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.