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Mental Commitment – Probable Cause Time Limit – Lost Competency to Proceed

Outagamie County v. Paul S., 2011AP920, District 3, 9/27/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Paul S.: Shelley Fite, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

¶9        Wisconsin Stat. § 51.15(5) provides an individual may “not be detained by the law enforcement officer or other person and the facility for more than a total of 72 hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays” without a hearing.  Wisconsin Stat. § 51.20(7)(a) requires a probable cause hearing to be held “within 72 hours after the individual arrives at the facility, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.” (Emphasis added.)  Compliance with the seventy-two-hour rule is mandatory, and a court loses competency to proceed when there is noncompliance.  Dodge Cnty. v. Ryan E.M., 2002 WI App 71, ¶5, 252 Wis. 2d 490, 642 N.W.2d 592.

¶10      Here, regardless of the date listed on the emergency detention, it is undisputed Paul arrived at St. Elizabeth Hospital[2] on Saturday, October 16, and he remained at St. Elizabeth Hospital until his probable cause hearing on Thursday, October 21.  Because the seventy-two-hour time limitation begins running “after the individual arrives at the facility” and not when the statement of emergency detention is dated, see Wis. Stat. § 51.20(7)(a), we conclude Paul’s probable cause hearing fell outside the seventy-two-hour time limitation and the court lost competency to proceed.[3]

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