Behind the Headlines: Madlyn Primoff

Punishment in Overdrive?

Madlyn Primoff, a New York mom, was recently arrested for allegedly kicking her two daughters to the curb " literally. Police say the 45-year-old attorney made her bickering 10- and 12-year-old girls get out of the car and then drove off.


Dr. Phil turns to legal analyst and former prosecutor Rikki Klieman. "You say this is a case that should be prosecuted, right?" he asks.


[AD]"Absolutely," she replies. "It's a clear case of neglect. My strategy would be exactly the facts as they appeared, but the most reason to prosecute this case, Dr. Phil, is because of deterrence. We know that there are mothers and fathers who every day have moments where their kids are squabbling in the backseat of a car, and they may think of throwing them out, but they cannot throw them out. Look what would have happened to this younger child if a Good Samaritan had not come along and taken the child for ice cream. This child could have been scooped, this child could have been assaulted, this child could have been killed."


"The mother has now apologized, and it's my understanding that the case has been dismissed or at least stayed for a period of time, if she doesn't do anything she shouldn't do for six months or something like that," Dr. Phil says.


"This isn't a mother who necessarily needs to go to jail. That certainly isn't helping this family. But it is a mother who needs some anger management counseling. It's a mother who needs to know the consequences of her act," Rikki says. "For heaven's sake; she's a lawyer!"

Dr. Phil turns to two mothers who have strong opinions about what Madlyn Primoff allegedly did to her daughters. He turns to Jessica. "It's OK with you?" he asks.


"It's fine. We finally have a mother who says, 'If you continue doing this, I'm going to throw you out of the car," she replies. "Finally, we have a mother who follows through on telling her children what she's going to do, and she's being held up "" she replies.


Dr. Phil puts the brakes on her reasoning. "There are a lot of not-good people out there who could have seen a vulnerable child and walked up and exploited them," he interjects.


"We need to raise our children so that they are capable adults, and they can cross a street, interact with a shopkeeper, look people in the eye and be competent out in the world," Jessica says.


Jenny disagrees with Jessica's position. "I believe a 10-year-old can be capable of crossing the street, but no, it's wrong. She wasn't even close to her home," she says. "She was too far away from her home in an unfamiliar territory. She obviously couldn't make her way back home."


"She did get lost," Dr. Phil points out.[AD]


"She got lost because somebody took her off the street. Her mother was going around the block," Jessica says. "Mothers are under so much scrutiny, and we're told over and over again, 'You're doing it wrong. You're doing it wrong.' She's had her worst moment, and now she's had her worst moment in the public eye. Let's just move forward."


"I think the risk-reward ratio is way out of balance here. There are a lot of ways to hold your kids accountable, and a lot of ways to follow through with them without putting them in harm's way," Dr. Phil. says. "Putting them out on the side of the street, where the kid is crying and doesn't know where to go, just seems inherently irresponsible to me."