Jon Eardley, a lawyer with practices in Washington, D.C., New York and Whittier, Calif., filed a complaint in U.S. District Court on behalf of Spears on Thursday. He lashed out against the existing conservatorship as a "violation of [Spears's] civil rights," and requested the case be moved from California state court to a federal court.
"I see the case as a civil rights case," he tells PEOPLE. "These are issues of confinement. Very serious confinement. Not allowed to contact her friends. Not allowed to use the phone. Not allowed to come and go as you please. Bodyguards controlling you and so forth."
Spears's father Jamie was granted temporary conservatorship – allowing legal control of his daughter's well-being and finances – after Spears was placed under an involuntary, emergency hold at the UCLA Medical Center's psychiatric ward late last month.
Since her release on Feb. 6, she has spent much of her time at her Studio City home, and when she does go out, she is usually driven by a bodyguard. In court papers, Eardley states: "She is being confined by the conservator to the private prison of her own home."
On Friday, a Superior Court spokesperson said that the existing conservatorship and other orders "are still in effect," and that court officials are unaware of any federal court action or scheduled hearings on the matter.
Legal Maneuvering"The saddest part [of the legal maneuvering] is it is all to [Britney's] detriment," says a legal insider. "The limited conservatorship puts in place medical care and protection of her assets that may be put at risk by the distraction and expense of having to get such an opportunistic and counterproductive action dismissed."
In fact, legal experts say Eardley's legal gambit is unlikely to succeed. "It's not like the judge read papers filed by one side and made decisions without giving each side due process," says Loyola Law School Professor Stan Goldman, who is not involved in the case.
"It would be quite surprising if the federal court granted a hearing on this," he adds, "and a total shocker if it ruled against the conservatorship."
In addition, the Superior Court has found that Spears "lacks the capacity" to retain counsel of her choosing. Because of that, lawyer Adam Streisand, who went to court on Feb. 4 to challenge the conservatorship on her behalf, removed himself himself from the case.
Spears Sought Out LawyerEardley says he has not met the pop star, but Spears sought him out: "She reached out by phone. I have no idea how [she got my number]."
The attorney says he doesn't normally represent celebrity clients. But now Eardley has hired spokesperson Michael Sands, who until recently worked with Kevin Federline's lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan.
When asked if Spears's often-erratic behavior posed a danger to herself and others, Eardley answered, "I don’t," adding that he sees far worse cases on the streets.
"In downtown Los Angeles I'm surrounded by people talking to themselves and having fits on the street," says Eardley. "They are out in public. They are not being institutionalized."