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No IAC or erroneous exercise of discretion in TPR disposition

State v. S.S., 2017AP2097 & 2098, 4/17/18, District 1 (one judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

S.S. appeals the termination of her parental rights to her two boys. She argues the trial court misapplied the six statutory factors in deciding termination was in the children’s best interest, and also that her counsel was ineffective in various respects. The court of appeals rejects all her arguments.

Regarding the circuit court’s termination, the discussion is long and fact-heavy. The upshot is that the circuit court’s discretion is wide, and that so long as it considers the six factors, as it did here, and has some evidence to support its reasoning, the court of appeals is unlikely to hold that it considered them wrong. (¶¶11-31).

S.S. also argues her trial counsel performed deficiently in various respects. Trial counsel also feels this way, judging by his testimony as quoted in the opinion, but the court of appeals rejects each claim of error as mere second-guessing. So, counsel was not deficient for not seeking a bonding assessment of the mother and children, because that’s not a common practice and at any rate it wasn’t likely to come out to her benefit. (¶¶36-39). He wasn’t ineffective for not calling the children to testify because that, also, is not typical and the circuit court thought it had heard what it needed to about the children’s views from the testimony of other witnesses. (¶¶40-43). And he wasn’t ineffective for not asking for an adjournment in order to be able to take testimony from the foster mother, who wasn’t at the hearing, because it was reasonable strategy to instead try and make hay from her absence. (¶¶44-47).

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