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Evidence sufficient to to support “failure to assume parental responsibility” finding in TPR appeal

State v. R.H., 2018AP1827, District 1, 12/4/18 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

The standard of review doomed this appeal, which argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that R.H. failed to assume parental responsibility during the grounds phase of a TPR.

According to the court of appeals:

¶10 . . . When reviewing the findings by a trier of fact, we consider the evidence in the light most favorable to those findings. See [Tammy W-G. v. Jacob T., 2011 WI 30, ¶39, 333 Wis. 2d 273, 797 N.W.2d 854.] Under that standard, an appellate court will affirm “unless the evidence, viewed most favorably to the state” is “so insufficient in probative value and force that it can be said as a matter of law that no trier of fact, acting reasonably,” could have reached the result being appealed. State v. Poellinger, 153 Wis. 2d 493, 501, 451 N.W.2d 752 (1990).

The court of appeals recited extensive evidence indicating that R.H. failed to assume parental responsibility for her son. On appeal, R.H. highlighted evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion. And the court of appeals held that in this type of situation, it must affirm:

¶13 . . . “[W]hen faced with a record of historical facts which supports more than one inference, an appellate court must accept and follow the inference drawn by the trier of fact unless the evidence on which that inference is based is incredible as a matter of law.” Id. at 506-07. R.H. merely asserts that there were other “historical facts” that showed efforts she made to assume parental responsibility, such as taking prenatal vitamins while she was pregnant, but we are bound to “follow the inference drawn by the trier of fact” unless the evidence on which the finding is based is “incredible as a matter of law.” See id. R.H. does not assert that any of the evidence on which the trial court based its finding is incredible as a matter of law.

 

 

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