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SVP Commitments – Competency to Stand Trial – No Due Process Right to Evaluation

State v. Ronald D. Luttrell, 2008 WI App 93
For Luttrell: Steven Prifogle, SPD, Milwaukee Trial

Issue: Whether a ch. 980 SVP respondent is entitled to § 971.14 competency evaluation.

Holding:

¶8        It is true, of course, that both Wis. Stat. § 971.13 and Wis. Stat. § 971.14 once applied to Wis. Stat. ch. 980 commitments, see Smith, 229 Wis. 2d at 726, 600 N.W.2d at 261, but that was because a specific statute, Wis. Stat. § 980.05(1m) (2003–04), required it, see Smith, 229 Wis. 2d at 726­–727, 731–732, 600 N.W.2d at 261, 263–264. … Section 980.05(1m) (2003–04), however, was repealed effective August 1, 2006 . ……

¶10      Luttrell’s contention that he is entitled to a competency hearing under Wis. Stat. § 971.14 also ignores the special indicium of a civil commitment, which, per force, cannot depend on whether that person is competent. Thus, significant mental impairment is a condition to commitment under Wis. Stat. ch. 51, Wisconsin’s civil mental-commitment chapter, see Wis. Stat. § 51.20(1)(a), as it is under Wis. Stat. ch. 55, Wisconsin’s protective-placement-system chapter for persons who are unable to properly care for themselves, see Wis. Stat. § 55.001. [5] Accordingly, competency is not a prerequisite to either civil mental-commitment or civil protective-placement proceedings. … The same principle applies to Wis. Stat. ch. 980.

The court also dispatches the argument that, by failing to overturn Smith explicitly, the legislature evinced intent to keep that holding on the books, ¶8 n. 3:

… As we have seen in the main body of this opinion, Smith relied on § 980.05(1m) (2003–04) in holding that persons subject to ch. 980 proceedings are entitled to a competency hearing under Wis. Stat. § 971.14. By repealing § 980.05(1m) (2003–04), the legislature overturned case law that used § 980.05(1m) (2003–04) to give to persons subject to ch. 980 proceedings certain rights enjoyed by defendants in criminal cases even though those rights are not otherwise granted by ch. 980. Simply put, Smith’s determination that § 980.05(1m) (2003–04) engrafted § 971.14 onto ch. 980 is not applicable here because § 980.05(1m) (2003–04) is no longer on the books.

One other thing, neither here nor there. It’s generally not a good sign when, even though the issue is purely one of law and therefore an abstraction, the court starts out its overview with a recitation of the horrible albeit irrelevant details of the crime, ¶2.

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