Attorneys have long had to deal with the ethical problem of representing clients who do not take their legal advice or act against their own interest. In such cases, they may ultimately have no choice but to seek termination of the representation, even in the midst of litigation. That is precisely what counsel has done with Britney Spears, seeking to leave en masse from further representation in her custody battle with Kevin Federline. One lawyer, however, continues to work on the criminal side to try a novel argument to avoid a criminal conviction. For lawyers, it is like watching the world’s longest car wreck. Yet, there is an intriguing legal issue here on the status of celebrities for the purposes of state violations.
The law firm Trope and Trope asked a court Wednesday to be relieved as Spears’ counsel citing a breakdown of attorney-client communication — a nice way of saying that she is not listening to counsel and causing self-inflicted wounds. It is a move that will likely doom the already dwindling chances that she has on custody. A useful start to showing stability for custody is to be able to retain attorneys who have every desire to be paid for services rendered.
In the meantime, her criminal counsel appears to be remaining with her — at least for the moment.
J. Michael Flanagan has demanded that the city attorney’s office to prove that Spears is a permanent California resident before prosecuting her for driving without a valid California driver’s license.
Spears could receive up to a year of probation if convicted of the misdemeanor Flanagan has noted that they need to “establish that Britney is domiciled here in California, that she permanently intends to stay here, then she does have a requirement to get a license.” It is a promising claim. Where most of us have a single home, celebrities tend float between homes. That creates the possibility that a celebrity and continually play one jurisdiction off another. Spears could challenge each state to show that she is not a resident of another state. One cannot be stateless, but proving which state can be difficult. Absent an admission, a celebrity could live “off the grid” for the purposes of such laws — which makes little sense.
Who knows. Like Anna Nicole Smith, Spears could leave a tangible contribution in the form of legal precedent. A defendant is not normally required to shoulder the burden on such a question. But the state may find that burden a bit too heavy when you have someone who can play a legal version of three-card monty with homes in three states.
For the latest on the story click here