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COA affirms TPR – parent’s claims fall on credibility grounds

State v. T.L.G., 5018AP1291, 9/4/19, District 1 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

T.L.G., who is cognitively limited, appeals the termination of her parental rights to her son. During the proceedings below her lawyer requested a competency evaluation; eventually the court appointed T.L.G. a guardian ad litem. T.L.G. ultimately pleaded no-contest to the asserted ground of continuing CHIPS, and her rights were terminated.

In a postdisposition motion, T.L.G. alleged that despite the court’s adequate colloquy, her mental limitations prevented her from understanding two things: that she wouldn’t be found unfit if the petitioner couldn’t show that the county had made reasonable efforts to provide services; and that she also wouldn’t be found unfit if it couldn’t show she was unlikely to meet return conditions within nine months. (¶7).

The court held a hearing at which both T.L.G. and her trial lawyer testified. T.L.G. explained the above, and her trial lawyer, to a certain extent, contradicted her. The circuit court found T.L.G.’s claims not to understand incredible, saying “to the extent that [T.L.G.] suggests she did not understand or know about things, the court does not find that credible, particularly compared with the transcript of [the plea] hearing.” (¶14). That finding is, of course, unreviewable, so the court of appeals affirms.

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