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TPR — improper “golden rule” argument to jury

State v. Samantha S., 2013AP1503 & 2013AP1504, District 1, 9/10/13; court of appeals decision (1-judge; ineligible for publication); case activity: 2013AP1503; 2013AP1504

During closing arguments at the fact-finding hearing the guardian ad litem referred to Samantha’s failure to keep visitation appointments and said this failure confused the children, who as a consequence were becoming attached to the foster caregivers. (¶2). The court holds this statement did not amount to an improper “golden rule” argument–that is, an appeal to the jury to place themselves in a party’s position and judge the case what he or she would want in that position, Rodriguez v. Slattery, 54 Wis. 2d 165, 170, 194 N.W.2d 817 (1972)–and did not tell the jury to decide the case based on the best interests of the children. (¶¶3-5). In any event, the trial court’s curative instruction (given after overruling Samantha’s objection) made it clear to the jury they were not to base their verdict on the best interests of the children. (¶¶2, 6).

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