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COA contradicts itself on mootness and the collateral effects of Chapter 51 recommitments

Jackson County v. C.A.D, 2020AP69, District 4, 9/17/20, (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

This is the second time in a week District 4 has dismissed a recommitment appeal as moot despite the claim of collateral effects: a firearm restriction, stigma, possible liability for costs of care. D4 says: “prove they exist!” A fundamental principle of appellate procedure is that the parties to an appeal cannot cite to evidence outside the record. So query how District 4 thinks appellants should prove these effects? This is why appellate courts around the country presume that committiments have collateral effects and decide them. Click here. Meanwhile, District 3 just took the opposite approach in denying a motion to dismiss a recommitment appeal for mootness. Click here.

The subject of a commitment order has significant liberty interest in avoiding being erroneously labeled so mentally and dangerous that the government needs to commit him and medicate him against his will. Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418 426 (1979); Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 491-492, 494 (1980). He also has the right to appeal the order. Wis. Stat. §51.20(15). Once the state grants the right to appeal it cannot make the appeal a meaningless ritual. That violates due process. Evitts v. Lucey, 469 U.S. 387, 393-394, 401 (1985)(citing Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353, 358 (1963)).

Some on D4 seem to be taking an anti-due process position on mootness and Chapter 51 appeals. See e.g. this decision. In contrast, Judge Kloppenberg recently took the wiser approach: If the underlying commitment has expired just stay the appeal until SCOW decides  this issue once and for all in Portage County v. E.R.R. Click here

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