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Peter H. v. Keri H., 2009AP2487, District III, 4/23/10

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Keri H.: Leonard D. Kachinski

IAC Claim – TPR
“The decision not to emphasize events preceding the current termination petitions was a reasonable strategic choice and does not constitute ineffective assistance of counsel,” ¶11. Separately: counsel did not perform deficiently in his efforts to obtain Keri H.’s client file from predecessor counsel, and then securing an adjournment to prepare for trial, ¶13; nor in his efforts to notify Keri H. of the initial appearance, ¶14.

Mootness – TPR – Child Turning 18 Post-Judgment

¶16      Keri’s assertion of the mootness doctrine is improper in this case. Keri uses the mootness doctrine as a sword to attack the order below, arguing changed circumstances have rendered the order irrelevant. However, the mootness doctrine is one of judicial abstention, not appellate action. “Generally, if a question becomes moot through a change in circumstances, it will not be determined by the reviewing court.” State v. Seymour, 24 Wis. 2d 258, 261, 128 N.W.2d 680 (1964). Thus, even if we agreed with Keri that Marissa’s case has become moot by Marissa reaching the age of majority—a holding that would require us to ignore both the effect of the termination on Keri and Marissa’s inheritance rights under Wis. Stat. § 852.01, see Black v. Pamanet, 46 Wis. 2d 514, 516, 175 N.W.2d 234 (1970), and the fact that the order was entered when Marissa was still a minor—we would dismiss her appeal, not reverse the order. Keri is not entitled to the remedy she seeks and, having already reached the merits of Keri’s appeal, we affirm.

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