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COA sets procedure for resuming juvenile cases suspended for incompetency to proceed

State v. M.D.M., 2021 WI App 42; case activity

In 2014, the State filed petitions charging M.D.M., a juvenile, with multiple counts of delinquency. He was found incompetent but likely to regain, so the court suspended these cases. In 2016, the State filed a new petition charging M.D.M. with 1 count of delinquency. This time M.D.M. was found competent to proceed, so the State wanted to resume prosecution of his 2014 case as well. This published opinion establishes the procedure for recalling a case after a juvenile regains competency.

The supreme court recently held that a circuit court may resume suspended juvenile delinquency proceedings to determine the competency of a juvenile who was found not competent but likely to regain competency within the statutory time limit of §938.30(5). See State v. A.L., 2019 WI 20, 385 Wis. 2d 612, 923 N.W.2d 827. See our post on A.L.

However, A.L. did not establish the procedure for resuming the suspended cases.  The court of appeals holds that to resume a case, the State must file a motion to recall a suspended case. This triggers a mandatory competency evaluation. If the juvenile is found competent, the case resumes and the circuit court exercises its discretion as to how the case should proceed. Opinion, ¶15.

In M.D.M.’s case, the circuit court had denied the State’s motions to resume the suspended cases. M.D.M. argued that this was the functional equivalent of dismissal with prejudice and the dismissal should stand.  The court of appeals nixed that argument.

¶17 We reject M.D.M.’s argument that it is enough that the circuit court’s orders are the functional equivalent of a dismissal with prejudice. As noted above, the effect of the circuit court’s orders denying the State’s motions to resume the proceedings is that the cases remain in suspended status and will remain there indefinitely—an outcome that the A.L. court rejected. Moreover, the issue before this court is whether a competency evaluation must occur before the circuit court can resume the proceedings. M.D.M. now concedes that the proper procedure to be followed is for the State to file its motions, which trigger a mandatory competency evaluation. That has not occurred



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