Attorney in Spears case claims her rights violated

Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:30pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An attorney who claims to represent troubled pop star Britney Spears has said her federal rights are being violated and her conservator and father, Jamie Spears, is preventing her from talking to friends, court papers showed on Friday.

The attorney, Jon Eardley, said he was hired by Spears on February 12 and has "spoken with her on several occasions."

"The last time she attempted to call me, the telephone was taken away from her, and the number was disconnected the next day," Eardley said in a written declaration.

Spears, 26, was hospitalized twice in January and placed under psychiatric evaluation. Earlier this month, a California court granted conservatorship to her father, which effectively gave him control over her business and legal affairs.

Eardley has filed papers seeking to move the case from state court to federal court. While a judge earlier this week denied a request to change the venue, he did give Eardley time to offer additional evidence to bolster his case.

Lawyers for Jamie Spears have argued in legal filings that Eardley has no standing, in part, because Britney Spears had no authority to hire him since Jamie Spears controlled her affairs.

In the new documents obtained by Reuters late on Friday, Eardley said that Jamie Spears moved into Britney's home and took control of her financial assets "without the benefit of a hearing where Ms. Spears would be present."

"She has been denied her fundamental rights to associate freely and to utilize telephones and other methods of communication with the outside world. The conservatorship has taken away significant liberties from the individual," Eardley wrote in his filing.

The lawyer also claims that "there are financial issues which involve the possible misappropriation of assets" but he did not give the details of those issues saying he had not had the time to obtain proper evidence.

Eardley said, however, that on Monday, February 25, he would amend his notice to take the case to federal court with claims that involve "witness intimidation, victim intimidation, and other federal claims appropriate for (U.S. court) review."

<p>Britney Spears drives her Mercedes Benz as she leaves the Stanley Mosk Courthouse garage after a child custody hearing with her ex-husband regarding her two sons in Los Angeles, California October 26, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>