24 January 2006

Why I will never look at TV the same

I was watching an episode of The Simpsons where Manjula is thinking of divorcing Apu. At one point in the episode, she hands him divorce papers and says, "consider yourself served." In Pennsylvania, that would not be proper service. Under Pa.. R.Civ. P. 1930.4, service in person must be made by a competent adult. (in Domestic Relations cases, there are other ways to serve people than in person) A competent adult is defined by Pa. R. Civ. P. 76, as "an individual ... who is neither a party to the action nor an employee or relative of a party." So, since Manjula is a party to the action, she cannot serve Apu in person.

Edit: This is not intended to be legal advice, nor do I form an attorney-client relationship with you by you reading my blog. If you want to get a divorce or otherwise do something legal-related, you should consult an attorney.


rene said...

Is this the first time you've seen a legal mistake on TV? you need to watch more TV. Plus (1) does the Simpson's take place in PA? cause you're looking at PA laws; and (2) I think in PFA's the plaintiff can serve the papers, so I don't see why in some states they might let a plaintiff serve a divorce.

Douglas said...

To answer your questions...
Yes, I do notice other legal innacuracies on TV. I was just struck because this was a non-legal show, and also posted this example because I thought it was something that a lot of people could relate to.
1. I don't know in what state the Simpsons take place (I'm not sure if they've ever specified) (Simpsons fans, do you know, has the state ever been specified in an episode (and I realize it may be a fake state)?) It would raise a red flag with me in any case if a party was doing the serving, and at least make me want to check that state's rules.
2. You appear to be correct with a PFA, but the reason they may allow service by the plaintiff in a PFA is because of the urgency of it. A divorce is probably not considered so urgent. Like I said above, though, I would check the state rules of court before I told a plaintiff to serve the person directly.

rene said...

I have consulted our local Simpsons expert -- we believe they live in the state of Kentucky (and no, I'm not gonna go look up the service rules in KY).

But in response to your comment, because the Simpsons is a NON-LEGAL show is exactly why it's not a problem to have an innacuracy. When Law & Order gets it wrong is when I get worried.

Maybe you should offer your services to the Simpsons writers as a legal expert. :o)

ben said...

I think there are 26 states which have a city of Springfield, but as a certified Simpsons expert, I regret to inform you that the show does not take place in Kentucky. The call letters for the local radio station on the Simpsons are KBBL, and since only stations west of the Mississippi River begin with K, the Simpsons cannot live in Kentucky.

G said...

Doug, are you giving legal advice on your blog?

You can't equate real life to The Simpsons. It does its best to not be defined by any state in the Union so that it can tell its stories without being confined by local laws. If it was a law show that took place in PA, then I think you have something worth commenting on. You might want to check out Law and Order, a law show taking place in NY, more people might be getting their law advice from that show than The Simpsons.

As to what state they are in, that is up in the air, but it is west of the Missippisi due to the call letters as Ben suggested. It is also near a large lake for boating, the ocean or at least a large river with a port (could still be a lake, maybe the Great Lakes?), there is a large mountain where snow stays all year, a desert, it snows in winter, the capital is called Capital City, characters think of nothing of driving to Vegas (and neither do I). If I had to guess I might say Northern California, but the state capitol name is wrong, and for that same reason it really can't be any state we know if in the Union. Where it is, who knows, but its NOT PA and therfore her service of Apu may be proper for the state that she is in.