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SCOW to review TPR order, reversed by COA based on due process violation and “loss of competency”

State v. R.A.M., 2023AP441, 6/6/23, District 1 (unpublished one-judge decision), GAL’s PFR granted, 9/26/23, case activity

As we previously explained, in a 1-judge decision, the court of appeals reversed an order terminating R.A.M.’s parental rights because the circuit court proceeded to disposition in violation of  § 48.23(2)(b)3.’s rule that 2 days must elaspe between a circuit court’s default judgment finding and disposition. And since the court proceded immediately to disposition, the court (1) violated R.A.M.’s due process rights and (2) lost competency to proceed to disposition.

Instead of simply allowing a new and timely dispositional hearing to take place, SCOW granted the GAL’s petition for review. The only mention of the GAL in the court of appeals’ decision is a note that the GAL joined the state’s requests for a default judgment against R.A.M. and for the court “to strike [R.A.M.’s] contest posture and find her in default for failing to comply with court orders and failing to appear here in court.” (Op., ¶8). But, R.A.M. did not contest the circuit court’s default judgment finding and only requested a new dispositional hearing that complied with § 48.23(2)(b)3. Other than the fact that R.A.M. won in the court of appeals, it’s unclear what aspect of the case caught SCOW’s attention. As was the court of appeals, maybe SCOW is concerned that R.A.M.’s single missed appearance, was found by the circuit court to be “egregious and without justifiable excuse.” (Op., ¶39, n.10).


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