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Lawyer Arrested for Evicting Her Own Children -- From Her Car

Talk about Kafka-esque. That's what Sunday must have felt like for high-powered Kaye Scholer partner Madlyn Primoff, who spent the night in lock-up after being arrested for kicking her bickering 10- and 12-year-old daughters out of her car in downtown White Plains, N.Y., and leaving them on the street, as reported in The New York Times. Primoff is free on $1,500 bail and due back in court on May 21.

The story went viral this week (The New York Post called Primoff a "Mother Chucker"), with thousands dissecting her conduct at various blogs and online fora. While most criticize Primoff for losing her cool, many felt that her arrest was unjustified. Social worker Cheryl Kessner told the Times that Primoff is a victim of today's safety-obsessed standards of suburbia. After all, two decades ago, 10- and 12-year-olds often roamed the same types of neighborhood where Primoff left her daughters on their own. Others were less forgiving. Remarked one commenter: "She's a lawyer; she wouldn’t act that way in the courtroom.”

Ah, but is that a fair analogy? I have two daughters, 9 and 12, and I've spent ample time in the courtroom before hostile judges and against nasty opposing counsel. Even so, I can personally attest that no communication in the courtroom has ever riled me in the same way as when my girls bicker, particularly in close quarters like a car, where I'm a captive audience. And though I've never kicked my daughters out of the car, believe me, the thought has occurred to me more than I'm willing to admit.

I also wonder what kind of reaction Primoff's story will receive from the legal community. Clearly she was stressed out by more than her daughters' arguments. Could the rigors of work or perhaps the economic downturn have taken a toll? Hopefully Primoff's colleagues treat her with sympathy rather than view her actions as a character flaw that could impact her abilities as an attorney.

What do you think?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 23, 2009 at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)


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