Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Amanda Bynes Freed From Conservatorship After Nearly Nine Years

Amanda Bynes’ conservatorship has been terminated, coming to end after nearly nine years.

Bynes, who rose to fame as a child actor on Nickelodeon’s All That in the ’90s and then starred in a slew of hit movies in the early 2000’s, has been under a conservatorship since 2013.

“The conservatorship is no longer need or required, and therefore, the petition of termination is granted,” Judge Roger L. Lund said Tuesday morning at the Superior Court of California, County of Ventura, in Oxnard, Calif. “She’s done everything the court has asked over a long period of time,” the judge added, before congratulating Bynes.

Bynes was not present at the hearing. Her attorney, David A. Esquibias, spoke on her behalf.

With no objections in the courtroom, the hearing lasted all of five minutes, and termination was expected. The day before the hearing, the judge issued a tentative ruling, stating that the conservatorship is “no longer required,” setting the stage for the end of the court-ordered arrangement that Bynes had been living under for over the past decade.

During the brief hearing, Judge Roger L. Lund congratulated "Ms. Bynes" and wished her "good luck."

With the conservatorship of both her person and her estate being terminated, Bynes will now have control over her finances and is able to choose where she wants to live, how she wants to conduct her life and will have oversight over all day-to-day responsibilities.

Bynes filed a petition to terminate the conservatorship on Feb. 23 with the support of her mother, attorney and psychiatrist. Along with the petition to terminate was a capacity declaration from Feb. 22 because the state of California requires all conservatees to provide updated information on their mental state from their physician or medical practitioner. Bynes’ psychiatrist supported ending the conservatorship, writing that Bynes “has no apparent impairment in alertness and attention, information and processing, or ability to modulate mood and affect, and suffers no thought disorders.”

In 2013, the former child star’s parents, Rick Bynes and Lynn Organ, originally petitioned the court for a conservatorship when their famous daughter allegedly set a driveway on fire and was hospitalized on an involuntary psychiatric hold. In 2014, her mother was granted a full conservatorship, becoming her official conservator.

Two of Bynes’ former All That cast mates were present at hearing, as were a trio of #FreeBritney activists who were at the courthouse to support Bynes, as part of their continued mission to raise awareness for conservatorship abuse, following the termination of Britney Spears’ conservatorship last November.

“We hope to speak to her and celebrate with her in some way,” said Leon Frierson, who starred on All That in the 90’s. Fellow Nickelodeon co-star Christy Knowings added, “We would love to see Amanda.”

Leon and Christy wrote in a joint Instagram post ahead of the court ruling, "It's my job to show up for others the way I would want them to show up for me, so I'm honored to represent the cast in support of Amanda!" The two were also photographed with fans as they celebrated Amanda's new freedom.

Bynes, who is now 35 and engaged, is currently a student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

“We’re all excited and we’re all anxiously looking forward to Amanda living a life as a private and normal citizen,” Bynes’ attorney told Variety earlier this week, before the hearing.

Since 2020, Bynes had been living in a structured community for women in need. The facility typically addresses drug, alcohol or substance dependency issues, and also medical issues. Esquibias told Variety this week that Bynes “has done very well in a very short period of time that she’s been there,” and is now “able to live on her own independently and free of the conservatorship.”

In 2014, Bynes displayed erratic behavior on Twitter, posting a series of tweets accusing her father of abuse; she then walked back the comments, saying she had a microchip in her brain, which caused her to tweet the false claims. Shortly after, Bynes was admitted to an involuntary emergency psychiatric hold at a California facility. During that time, Bynes had tweeted that she was diagnosed “bipolar and manic depressive,” though her attorney declined to comment on any medical issues and whether Bynes was ever diagnosed as bipolar, citing client attorney privilege.

Bynes spoke about her past in 2018, telling Paper Magazine, “I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me.” She told the publication that she began smoking marijuana when she was 16 years old. “Later on it progressed to doing molly and ecstasy,” she said in that interview, adding that she “abused” Adderall and tried cocaine a few times.

An individual close to Bynes told Variety that the retired actor never had a drug addiction, explaining that she had a medical condition that required supervision and required assistance and education.” 

Last month, when Bynes filed to terminate the conservatorship, a family attorney for her mother, Lynn Organ, said that the conservatorship was always “intended to be temporary” and stated that “Lynn is extremely happy and thrilled and proud of Amanda and ready to terminate this conservatorship based on the hard work Amanda has done.”

When asked what Bynes is focusing on with her newfound freedom, Esquibias recently told Variety, “Besides normalcy as a person and a student, I know that she is looking forward to what her next step is going to be. She is very creative, so she’s trying to find an outlet for that.” The attorney mentioned that Bynes is interested in starting a fragrance line and possibly a clothing line and that she wouldn’t necessarily rule out a return to acting.

In a statement shared exclusively with PEOPLE via her lawyer Esquibias, the former actress-turned-fashion student expressed her gratitude while sharing insight into her future plans.

"Following today's decision by the judge to terminate my conservatorship, I would like to thank my fans for their love and well wishes during this time. I would also like to thank my lawyer and my parents for their support over the last nine years," says Bynes, 35.

"In the last several years, I have been working hard to improve my health so that I can live and work independently, and I will continue to prioritize my well-being in this next chapter. I am excited about my upcoming endeavors — including my fragrance line — and look forward to sharing more when I can," she concludes.

After news broke that the 35-year-old's nine-year conservatorship had ended, Amanda told E! News, "Words can't even describe how I feel. Wonderful news."

"Lynn is very happy and proud of Amanda for everything that she's done and come through, and how she's stronger and better on other side of this conservatorship," Tamar Arminak, Lynn's attorney, told E! News. "Lynn is looking forward to Amanda's engagement and everything that follows, and to having a mother-daughter relationship rather than a conservator-conservatee relationship."

As for what's next for Amanda, a source close to the She's the Man actress exclusively told E! News that she and Paul are currently renting an apartment together and have already signed a lease for a new home.  The insider also said that Amanda, who has an associate's degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, is making plans to move forward with her perfume line, which will "be the first project she dives into on her own now that she's free of the conservatorship."

Since filing to end her conservatorship in February, Bynes has been taking steps towards independence, most recently locating an L.A. rental to move into with her fiancé Paul Michael. (The couple — who met in late 2019 — announced their engagement on Valentine's Day 2020.)

"She believes her condition is improved and protection of the court is no longer necessary," Esquibias told PEOPLE last month of Bynes, who has been largely residing in a sober living community.

A week later, Bynes returned to Instagram in a since-deleted post, addressing Tuesday's conservatorship hearing. "What's up Instagram. Amanda Bynes here. My court date is coming up in two weeks," she said. "I want to thank you all for your love and support. Peace out."

Bynes has remained out of the entertainment business for more than a decade. Her last credit was the 2010 film Easy A, in which she starred opposite Emma Stone. After her breakthrough as a child star on All That, she landed her own sketch variety series as a preteen, The Amanda Show, which ran for three seasons and cemented her status as a comedic prodigy. In the 2000s, Bynes had continuous work, leading popular television and film projects, including She’s the Man with Channing Tatum, What a Girl Wants, Sydney White, the 2007 movie adaptation of Hairspray and the TV sitcom What I Like About You, in which she co-starred with Jennie Garth from 2002 to 2006.

Bynes’ case is the second high-profile conservatorship to recently capture interest from the public, following Spears’ conservatorship, which was put in place in 2008 and was terminated last November, dominating international headlines with worldwide rallying from the #FreeBritney movement. The pop star’s legal proceedings remain ongoing as Spears’ contentious uphill battle against her father continues to play out, both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion. With Spears’ case at the forefront of media attention, Bynes’ conservatorship also began to gain traction on social media with many fans finding interest in the actress’ story and making public calls to free Bynes, though the inner workings of the two cases are very different.

Originally published: March 23, 2022.

Original source: Variety; Additional sources: E! NewsTheWrap.

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