High-profile attorney Adam Streisand recently persuaded a California appellate court to establish the first precedent for a new state law enacted in the wake of the “Free Britney” movement.
Streisand, whom pop sensation Britney Spears initially tried to retain as her father imposed a conservatorship over her in 2008, was this time advocating for clients whose father is under a conservatorship imposed by his second wife. However, Streisand argued — successfully — that the father’s supposedly chosen legal team should not be able to represent the father because of their conflicted motives.
The Riverside appellate court ultimately published its Jan. 5 ruling, which establishes a statewide interpretation that while the law in question does afford clients in conservatorships the right to retain lawyers of their choosing, judges can reject attorneys who demonstrate undue influence over such clients.
“Ultimately, the legislature adopted a law that responded to my concerns (about those in conservatorships, in that it does say the court has to respect the choice of the conservatee. That was good,” Streisand said. “But it didn’t end there. It also said that a court can deny that choice when the lawyer has a conflict. But the legislature didn’t really expand on what that means.”
Streisand, who works at downtown-based Sheppard Mullin’s office in Century City, had last year filed an elder abuse restraining order against the opposing legal team on the basis that they were working under the influence of the conservatee’s second wife as she attempted to remove her husband’s biological children from his estate. During a deposition, Streisand said those opposing lawyers were asking “very leading” questions to their client, and when it was Streisand’s turn to question him, the client was unable to identify who those attorneys were or why they were there.
“This is the first case where the court of appeal has said this is what the statute means, at least in the circumstances of this case, these lawyers should not be allowed to represent the conservatee even if supposedly he is signing a declaration under penalty of perjury that these are the people he wants to be his lawyers,” Streisand said. “He couldn’t even identify who these lawyers were.”