Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Teen Mom 2

Well, we first discussed this show in a previous post. Since then, a lot has happened. Without getting into all the nitty gritty details, suffice it to say that MTV returned with its second installment of this disturbing reality TV hit.

To remind you, the show follows a handful of teenage moms as they navigate the difficulties of real life with the added bonus of caring for a child after an unplanned teenage pregnancy. The show is actually a spin off of 16 and Pregnant.

This season, just like last season, is a series of uncomfortable scenes showing how the added responsibility of caring for a child significantly changes the lives of these young mothers. The cynic in me wonders whether the lives of these teens would be all that normal even without the babies, but that's a discussion for another time.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with a blog about lawyers and the law? Well, the legal issues these shows manifest through the lives of these young teens are limitless.

For example, similar to Season One, we have a domestic relationship that borders on abuse. Last season, it was Amber and Gary who displayed their dysfunctional and abusive relationship for all the world to see. In our previous post, we pondered whether Amber, who appeared to be the aggressor, would be prosecuted for her abusive behavior towards her baby-daddy, Gary. Turns out, she was.

In Season One, we also witnessed the prosecution of Farrah's mother, who abused her daughter, and was arrested for hitting her and, possibly, threatening her with a knife.

This season, we have Jenelle and her mother. We have already seen several instances of what could be considered criminal harrasment, at least here in Oregon. Some of their interactions border on assault and, as a criminal defense attorney, I would not be surprised to see some district attorneys try to prosecute some of these disputes as domestic assaults.

While Jenelle's behavior towards her mother is nothing but distasteful, my opinion of her is saved by the fact that her mother seems even more awful than she. And, as we all know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, right? Jenelle is clearly not excelling in her role as a teen mother, however, her mother is such a terrible control freak, it is almost impossible to even witness her behavior towards her daughter and how she uses the baby as silk in her web of misery - mostly against her daughter.

Now, I'm no family lawyer - I do criminal defense and personal injury, remember? - but, Janelle's mother threatens to take her to court for custody of the baby and, in so doing, forces her to voluntarily give up temporary custody of the child. Normally, and even somewhat in this case, this is a benevolent maneuver for the welfare of the child. However, here, as we see in all the episodes since, Jenelle's mother uses the custody situation against her, and does so vindictively.

Not to be outdone, in last night's episode, Jenelle steals her mother's credit cards to take her and her deadbeat boyfriend (who is strangely likable in his supporting role though he does nothing productive for the duo), on a road trip to New Jersey to see the boyfriend's older brother. WHAT IS SHE THINKING!?!??! This maneuver is a shining example of what medical science has proven about teenagers brains not functioning properly as they have not completed their judgment determinative growth - in other words, they are unable to make appropriate decisions at this age which is only exacerbated by these dysfunctional relationships and, obviously, the additional pressure of parenting an infant or toddler.

I can tell you, as an experienced criminal defense attorney, Jenelle's behavior could easily qualify as theft here in Oregon. The show does not provide the audience with just how much she rings up in credit card charges (gas and food) for this little adventure before her mother catches wind of the game and cancels the cards so its impossible to know whether this behavior would rise to the level of a felony or simply a misdemeanor. And, any criminal defense attorney could tell you, those levels vary from state to state. But, clearly, she has stolen from her mother. What is interesting, at least to this attorney audience member, is will the local district attorney attempt to prosecute Jenelle since their entire case is laid out in living color on television. I always knew that DA's had it easier than criminal defense attorneys, but this is ridiculous.

Finally, the other legally, intriguing couple this season is Kailyn and Jo. This is any normal human's worst nightmare scenario. When the season began, we learned that Kailyn was living at Jo's house out of the charity of his parents when Kailyn (for currently unknown reasons) had nowhere else to go. Then, Jo impregnated Kailyn and after she had the baby, she remained in their house. The brutal part is that when she and Jo stopped getting along, she could not escape because to leave this house would render her (and her baby) homeless. And, Jo's poor parents who are trying to do the right thing are stuck in the middle of two teen parents who no longer like each other. This is one of the more miserable human scenarios I have ever witnessed.

The legally interesting part is during a surprising moment of generosity, Jo lends Kailyn $600 to start college. Then, last night, after Kailyn reveals that she wants no part of any relationship with Jo, she is asked to leave their house. Suddenly, Kailyn's mom who has been around in previous episodes but was extremely unsupportive for unknown reasons, now offers Kailyn a place to stay for her and her child. So, Kailyn moves out, but when she tries to recover her belongings from Jo's house, he refuses until he gets his money. The unfortunate parents are stuck in the middle of this mess of trying to support their son and their grandchild. Eventually, the cops are called.

Again, I'm not a property lawyer, but the cops presumably listen to both sides of the story and eventually send Kailyn away without her stuff claiming that Jo is allowed to hold it until he gets his money back. What do the other lawyers out there think about this? What about the non-lawyers? Discuss....


  1. I think it's weird that you're a grown man and you watch Teen Mom. Get a life.

  2. Only to be outdone by a grown man reading a blog about the same...thanks for the constructive criticism!

  3. Amen! To Jo and Kailyn - I find it all to amusing that Jo's parents, who obviously have a nice house, nice cars etc, think that it is okay to lock a 17 year old's simple belongings(we are talking underwear, some pants, some shirts, maybe makeup and a blow dryer!!!!)so that she can't get them until she pays Jo the $600. Maybe this should have been considered helping the baby for his future. Also, amusing when Jo asked for the $30 he paid to the daycare provider. I hope that this family watches this episode and take a good look at themselves. Jenelle and her mother - that could be a whole couple seasons in itself! Hope that she makes something of herself just to spite her mother!!!!