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Sua sponte severance of TPR hearings affirmed based on waiver and parents’ history of abuse

State v. D.M.S.W., Sr., 2018AP124-125, 4/3/18, District 1, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

¶9 We conclude that D.M.W., Sr. waived his right to appellate review of the circuit court’s decision to sua sponte sever the parents’ hearings. Prior to the fact finding hearings, the circuit court informed D.M.W., Sr. that it would sever the fact finding hearings because the parents had a history of domestic abuse and the court did not find it appropriate to conduct fact finding simultaneously. D.M.W., Sr., pro se at the time, did not object. The court also explained its decision to standby counsel and asked counsel to explain the severance issue to D.M.W., Sr. The court informed the parties that they would have an opportunity to address any concerns pertaining to severance. D.M.W., Sr. did not raise any concerns as to this issue. Nor did counsel raise any objections to the severance of the parents’ disposition hearings after the court explained the basis for its decision. . . .It is well established law that an issue not raised in the circuit court is deemed waived for appellate review. See State v. Nelson, 146 Wis. 2d 442, 457, 432 N.W.2d 115 (Ct. App. 1988) . . .

¶10 Moreover, the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion in severing the parents’ hearings. The court articulated its reason by expressing concern for the well-being of the mother based on the parents’ history of abuse. D.M.W., Sr. has not established how he was prejudiced by the severance. The court considered separate evidence as to each parent and its written decision addresses the WIS. STAT. § 426.426(3) [sic] statutory factors in thoughtful detail. The court properly exercised its discretion.

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