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TPR – Appearance by Telephone

Kenosha County DHS v. Amber D., 2011AP562, District 2, 8/10/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Amber D.: Thomas K. Voss; case activity

Timothy M.’s appearance by telephone, occasioned by his incarceration, didn’t violate his due process right to meaningfully participate in TPR proceedings, Waukesha Cnty. DHHS v. Teodoro E., 2008 WI App 16, ¶10, 307 Wis. 2d 372, 745 N.W.2d 701 (Ct. App. 2007); Rhonda R.D. v. Franklin R.D., 191 Wis. 2d 680, 702-03, 530 N.W.2d 34 (Ct. App. 1995).

¶11      Based on Rhonda R.D., we hold that Timothy was able to meaningfully participate in the TPR proceedings.  Timothy argues that the telephone setup prevented him from meaningfully participating in the December 8 and December 29 hearings.  While Timothy does not say why these two hearings were problematic and the others were not, our review of the record supports the circuit court’s conclusion that Timothy was able to hear what was going on during the December 8 and December 29 hearings. …

¶12      Timothy argues that his situation is more like that of the father in State v. Lavelle W., 2005 WI App 266, 288 Wis. 2d 504, 708 N.W.2d 698.  In Lavelle W., the telephone setup occasionally faded in and out and at one point was interrupted by static.  Id., ¶8.  We held that the “periodic or sporadic inaudibility” of a telephone setup prevents a party from meaningfully participating in TPR proceedings.  Id., ¶9.  As there is no evidence that Timothy had trouble hearing or understanding the proceedings, Lavelle W. is inapplicable.


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