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Defense win – circuit court lost competency due to incorrect computation of time Limit for probable cause hearing

Dodge County v. Ryan E.M., 2002 WI App 71
For Ryan E.M.: Eileen A. Hirsch, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue: Whether the 72-hour deadline, necessary for the court’s competency over the ch. 51 commitment proceeding, is measured from the subject’s time of detention. (“¶4. The issue in this case is whether the method of computing time set forth in Wis. Stat. § 990.001(4)(a) and (d), in which the first day is excluded, applies in the context of Wis. Stat. § 51.20(7)(a).”)

Holding: Because the probable cause deadline is expressed in § 51.20(7)(a) in terms of hours rather than days, the first-day-excluded rule of computing time under § 990.001(4)(a) and (d) is not applicable: “¶6. The preamble to Wis. Stat. § 990.001 states that the rules of construction provided in that statute must be followed unless to do so ‘would produce a result inconsistent with the manifest intent of the legislature.’ We conclude that by expressing the time requirement in terms of hours rather than days, the legislature has manifested its intent that the clock start running immediately ‘after the individual arrives at the facility,’ rather than the next day.” And, because this probable cause hearing was held 74 1/2 hours after detention, ¶3, the circuit court lost competency to proceed, ¶12.

Note: The holding seems to apply broadly to all time-computation statutes; any deadline expressed in terms of hours begins running immediately from the triggering even. ¶¶9-10.

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