Newsom signs "Free Britney" bill, aimed at reshaping conservatorship laws in California
Los Angeles, California – On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation into law that aims to reform the state’s conservatorship laws in light of the #FreeBritney movement.
The 39-year-old's ongoing struggles with her conservatorship gained global attention, which led to the creation of numerous documentaries about the legalities and questionable aspects of the legal arrangement.
As people became more interested in Spears' conservatorship woes, many started to wonder if there were others in similar arrangements who are being exploited by their conservators – including the bill's authors.
In a joint press release, co-authors Assemblymember Evan Low and Senators Ben Allen and John Laird said AB 1194, "Was partly inspired by a documentary that detailed the tragic conservatorship case of pop star Britney Spears."
The bill, which will go into effect in 2024, calls for a formal review and study of California's conservatorship system. Under the new law, conservatees will also be given more control over deciding who serves as their legal counsel.
"At the very least, those potentially entering conservatorships should have the right to select a conflict-free attorney of their choice to represent them in court," Sen. Allen said.
AB 1194 will also prohibit a conservator from being compensated from the estate for any costs or fees accrued in unsuccessfully defending themselves in court, and impose sanctions on a professional fiduciary's license if their breach of duty causes financial, physical, or mental issues for the conservatee – amongst other things.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Low said, "California's conservatorship system is failing people from every walk of life, whether they are a global superstar whose struggles unfortunately play out in public or a family unsure of how to take care of an elderly parent."
"It's painfully clear that we can and should do better," Low said.
Cover photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire