By: Gabriela Dueñas
Just last week, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Roger Lund approved Amanda Bynes’ petition to end her nine-year conservatorship. Amanda Bynes was initially placed in a temporary emergency conservatorship in 2013 after she set fire to a driveway. While the court appointed Bynes’ mother as her temporary conservator, the court once again appointed Bynes’ mother as her conservator the following year after police arrested Bynes for driving under the influence. Nine years later, Bynes filed a petition to end her conservatorship because she believes that, “her condition is improved and protection of the court is no longer necessary.” Bynes’ parents were very supportive of Bynes petition and even agreed to her request. Bynes has made several changes recently including improving her relationship with her family, attending college, and getting engaged.
California law provides that in a conservatorship, a judge will appoint someone, known as a conservator, to take care of another adult, known as the conservatee, because the individual cannot manage either their own self or their finances. A conservator can control the conservatee’s medical, financial, and basic life decisions. In other words, the conservatee essentially loses their autonomy. This, however, did not seem to be Bynes’ case . Amanda Bynes had reportedly been on good terms with her parents, and the conservatorship had been “in the back of their minds.” Furthermore, Bynes and her parents had both maintained the same goals throughout the years – to work together to end the conservatorship once Bynes was well. In contrast to other conservatorships, such as Britney Spears’ legal battle to end her conservatorship, Bynes’ attempt to end her conservatorship was much more cordial, thus shedding light to the fact that relationships between the conservator and the conservatee do not necessarily have to be problematic.
While many speculate that Britney Spears’ successful attempt to end her conservatorship prompted Amanda Bynes to do the same, that does not seem to be the case. Bynes’ lawyer claims that Bynes’ decision was not inspired in the slightest by the Free Britney movement and that Bynes was trying to “stay out of the limelight” throughout this process. Furthermore, Bynes’ lawyer stated that Bynes had never mentioned Britney Spears’ proceedings during the process.
Although the Free Britney movement did not, per se, inspire Bynes to end her conservatorship, Spears could have paved the way for an easier process for Bynes. Shortly after the documentary, Framing Britney Spears, was released, California State Assemblymember Evan Low drafted a bill that recently became law in California and aims to reform multiple areas of conservatorship law in the state. Thus, the Free Britney movement and its aftermath likely made it easier for Bynes to terminate her conservatorship, particularly given that Bynes’ conservator, in contrast to Britney’s conservator, was in favor of ending the conservatorship. Because the judge ultimately terminated Bynes’ conservatorship, more celebrities are expected to attempt to end their conservatorships. Britney and Bynes’ situations certainly prove that terminating a conservatorship can be done – with or without the conservator’s support.
 See Sara Delgado, Amanda Bynes Files to End 9-Year-Old Conservatorship With Parents’ Support, Teen Vogue (Mar. 1, 2022), https://www.teenvogue.com/story/amanda-bynes-files-to-end-9-year-old-conservatorship-with-parents-support#:~:text=Previously%20(March%201%2C%202022)%3A,capacity%20declaration%20the%20day%20prior; see also Corinne Heller, Alli Rosenbloom, & Spencer Lubitz, Here’s What Amanda Bynes is Looking Forward to After Her Conservatorship Ends, E News (Feb. 27, 2022, 7:02 PM), https://www.eonline.com/ca/news/1321262/here-s-what-amanda-bynes-is-looking-forward-to-after-her-conservatorship-ends; Andrew Dalton, Judge Ends Lengthy Conservatorship for Actor Amanda Bynes, Time (Mar. 22, 2022, 5:09 PM), https://time.com/6159617/amanda-bynes-conservatorship-ends/.
 See Delgado, supra note 1.
 See id.
 See Benjamin VanHoose & Melody Chiu, Amanda Bynes Files to End Conservatorship: ‘She Believes Her Condition Is Improved,’ Says Lawyer, People (Feb. 25, 2022, 2:13 PM), https://people.com/movies/amanda-bynes-files-to-end-conservatorship-exclusive/.
 See Carson Blackwelder, Amanda Bynes seeks to end her nearly 9-year conservatorship, ABC News (Feb. 28, 2022, 9:27 AM), https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Culture/amanda-bynes-seeks-end-year-conservatorship/story?id=83155895; see also Diana Dasrath & Minyvonne Burke, Amanda Bynes files petition to end conservatorship, has parents’ support, NBC News (Feb. 25, 2022, 3:06 PM), https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/amanda-bynes-files-petition-end-conservatorship-parents-support-rcna17745.
 See Heller et al., supra note 1.
 See California Courts, Conservatorship, https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-conservatorship.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en.
 See Jocelyn Wiener, The Britney Effect: How California is grappling with conservatorship, Cal Matters (updated Dec. 13, 2021), https://calmatters.org/justice/2021/07/britney-spears-conservatorship/.
 See id.
 See Delgado, supra note 1.
 See Perez Hilton, Amanda Bynes’ Parents Fully Support Her Decision To End Conservatorship, Perez Hilton https://perezhilton.com/amanda-bynes-parents-fully-support-conservatorship-end/ (last visited Mar. 23, 2022).
 See id.
 See Rima Pundir, Amanda Bynes’ Conservatorship Decision Not Inspired By Britney Spears, The Blast (Feb. 26, 2022, 10:00 AM), https://theblast.com/184717/amanda-bynes-not-inspired-by-britney-spears/#:~:text=’Never%20Even%20Mentioned%20Britney’s%20Battle’&text=All%20in%20all%2C%20Bynes%20has,at%20all%20by%20Britney%20Spears.
 See Hilton, supra note 11.
 See Andie Judson, How the Free Britney movement changed life for her, and the conservatorship system, AMB 10 (updated Nov. 12, 2021, 3:02 PM), https://www.abc10.com/article/news/investigations/britney-spears-conservatorship-is-terminated-how-the-movement-changed-life-for-her-and-the-system/103-1b414850-d6c2-4465-892f-e02f01090c39.
 See Pundir, supra note 13.
 See id.; see also Stephanie K. Baer & Paige Skinner, A Judge Has Ended Amanda Bynes’ Conservatorship, Buzz Feed News (Mar. 22, 2022, 2:06 pm), https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/skbaer/amanda-bynes-conservatorship-terminated.