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Competency of TPR Court – Statutory Time Limits–Failure to Comply with § 48.427(1) 10-day Limit for Entering Dispositional Order

Dane Co. DHS v. Dyanne M., 2007 WI App 129, District 4, 3/29/07 (published)

Competency of TPR Court – Statutory Time Limits, Generally

Issue/Holding:1: Generally, compliance with a statutory TPR time limit is mandatory, such that non-compliance results in lost circuit court competency absent an applicable exception, ¶5, citing Dane Co. DHS v. Susan P.S., 2006 WI App 100, ¶63.

Issue/Holding:2: The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of lost judicial competency for lapse of a time limit without obtaining a proper extension under § 48.315, ¶9:

  • The 30-day time limit for holding an initial hearing. Wis. Stat. § 48.422(1); Brown County v. Shannon R., 2005 WI 160 ¶¶2, 74, 81-82, 286 Wis. 2d 278, 706 N.W.2d 269; April O., 233 Wis. 2d 663, ¶¶1, 4-5, 7-10.
  • The 45-day time limit for holding a fact-finding hearing. Wis. Stat. § 48.422(2); State v. Robert K., 2005 WI 152, ¶¶2, 16-17, 286 Wis. 2d 143, 706 N.W.2d 257; Matthew S., 282 Wis. 2d 150, ¶¶1-2, 13-18.
  • The 45-day time limit for holding a dispositional hearing. Wis. Stat. § 48.424(4); State v. Quinsanna D., 2002 WI App 318, ¶¶2, 34-37, 259 Wis. 2d 429, 655 N.W.2d 752; April O., 233 Wis. 2d 663, ¶¶1, 4-5, 7, 11-12.

Competency of TPR Court – Statutory Time Limits – Failure to Comply with § 48.427(1) 10-day Limit for Entering Dispositional Order

Issue:  Whether failure to enter the written TPR dispositional order within the 10-day time limit of § 48.427(1) causes the circuit court to lose competency over the case.

Holding: A circuit court loses competency to proceed in a TPR when it fails to comply with a time limit between critical adjudication stages, ¶8, but entry of the written order was not such a “critical stage”:

¶11 … We conclude, however, that the circuit court here did not lose competency because it fully adjudicated the TPR proceeding and made all the decisions it was required to make in its oral decision and order prior to expiration of the 10-day time limit.

¶12 After hearing evidence at a dispositional hearing, a circuit court must make a number of decisions. The decisions that must be made depend on the circumstances and are set forth in several statutes. …

¶13 … Here, in light of both the court’s decision to terminate Dyanne’s parental rights and Artavia’s custody and adoption needs, three rulings were required … The circuit court’s oral decision contains all three rulings. …

¶14 Having made these rulings, there was nothing left for the circuit court to adjudicate. It follows that the “critical stages within the adjudication process” concluded when the court rendered its oral decision. Moreover, because the 10-day time limit in Wis. Stat. § 48.427(1) had not passed when the circuit court ruled orally, any subsequent failure to comply with that time limit did not deprive the circuit court of competency. The net effect of our holding is that, as long as the required rulings are made within the 10-day time limit, even if they are oral, the court does not lose competency.

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