Amanda Bynes came into the public eye as one of Nickelodeon’s sweethearts. Now friends and colleagues are so worried about her recent erratic behavior that they have been begging for police intervention. Her former publicist, Jonathan Jaxson, tweeted: “I just spoke to @AmandaBynes and she is soooo messed up on drugs and please @NY POLICE find her and help her! I don’t know her address!”
Jenny McCarthy then tweeted, “Police are at @AmandaBynes house. I hope they get her help. Enough of this circus. She needs help.”
Just over a year ago, Amanda Bynes started down a path that many probably could not foresee. It started with being charged with driving under the influence last year after she hit a police car when she was talking on her cell phone. After that, she was charged with two more hit and run accidents, which were later dismissed. Since then, her behavior has seemed to get more bizarre and erratic by the month.
More recently, she tweeted to R&B/hip-hop artist Drake that she wants him to “murder her vagina.” Bynes has also been busy posting numerous pictures of herself topless and in lingerie. Then, she went as far as to shave half of her head. You can follow her twitter activity here.
Does this remind you of another young starlet? Maybe Britney Spears a few years back? Britney Spears’ career was likely turned around because of court intervention through a conservatorship proceeding. While this type of court proceeding is normally used for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, they certainly can be used to help someone in their 20′s. As long as the person meets the legal standards, there can be a conservatorship or guardianship. Britney certainly qualified at the time (but there is a big questionwhether, five years later, she still needs one).
Can Amanda Bynes meet the standard for a conservatorship as well? Because she’s residing in New York, the proper legal course of action would be called a guardianship instead a conservatorship. They are the same type of legal proceeding, but some states use the term “conservatorship” and others “guardianship.”
Some media outlets are reporting that court intervention isn’t an option for Bynes’ family. This is incorrect. A Fox News article, for example, discusses the legal standard for an involuntary commitment proceeding. But, her family has a much better option to obtain help through a guardianship proceeding. That option is based on the New York guardianship standards.
To begin with, the guardianship law states that Amanda Bynes would need a guardianship to:
“provide for [her] personal needs, including food, clothing…health care, or safety and/or to manage the property and financial affairs”.
Her strange behavior began to escalate when she was given access to her millions a few months ago. So there doesn’t seem to be any question that she needs assistance managing her financial affairs. In addition, it could be argued that she needs help with her safety and health care (i.e.: DUI as well as her erratic behavior).
The second part of the guardianship requirement is that Amanda Bynes will be likely to suffer harm because of her inability to handle her personal needs and/or manage her property. In addition, she needs to be able to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of her inability. The continuation of her erratic behavior would appear to meet this requirement. In fact, the New York statute specifically mentions “alcoholism or substance dependence; and…any medications with which the person is being treating and their effect on the person’s behavior, cognition and judgment.”
Given Bynes’ very public erratic behavior (she’s documenting much of it on her own Twitter account!) it is possible that a New York judge would grant her family a guardianship to protect her. Only time will tell if her parents decide to pursue this option. If they view the situation in the same light as her former publicist, then they certainly should.
If you ever become worried about the safety or well-being of someone–regardless of how old he or she may be–a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding may be the answer. They should be used with caution, and only after consulting with an attorney experienced in these types of cases. When they are granted, the person loses the legal right to make even basic decisions for himself or herself. This level of protection isn’t for everyone–and can sometimes be abused.
But when a person, like Amanda Bynes, appears to be on a crash-course towards destruction, it may be the only thing that can help her.
By Danielle and Andrew Mayoras, co-authors of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! For the latest celebrity and high-profile cases, with tips to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your clients, click here to subscribe to The Trial & Heirs Update. You can “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.