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COA upholds TPR default judgment, unfitness finding, and termination

State v. D.T., 2022AP909, 8/23/22, District 1 (oen-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

D.T. showed up late for his Zoom TPR trial. It had been set for 9:00; D.T. appeared at 11:00 and said he was having eye trouble that kept him from logging in. The circuit court defaulted him and declined to vacate that default. The court of appeals affirms, noting that D.T. had missed other hearings.

We disagree with D.T. that the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion in denying his request to reopen the default judgment. To start, it is undisputed that D.T. had notice of the November 15, 2021 trial date. D.T. was advised of the date in advance, and on the morning of the trial, before the proceedings started, trial counsel called D.T. D.T. was also previously warned by the circuit court that if he did not appear for a court proceeding he would be found in default and could lose his right to have a jury trial.

In addition, D.T. had failed to appear at the permanency plan hearing immediately preceding the November 15, 2021 trial date, and this was not the first time that D.T. had failed to timely appear for a scheduled trial date. D.T. had previously appeared late for a scheduled trial date on August 2, 2021, because he overslept.


The court also rejects D.T.’s arguments that there was insufficient evidence of either continuing CHIPS or failure to assume parental responsibility, (¶¶24-32), and that the circuit court erroneously weighed the statutory factors in finding termination merited, (¶¶33-38).

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