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TPR — Prior TPR as Grounds, Based on Default Judgment

Oneida Co. DSS v. Nicole W., 2007 WI 30, affirming unpublished decision

Issue: Whether partial summary judgment against Nicole was properly granted under Wis. Stat. § 48.415(10) (prior involuntary TPR within 3 years) when the prior termination order was based on her default for failing to personally appear at the fact-finding hearing.


¶27 We agree with the court of appeals that to require more evidence than a prior involuntary termination order to satisfy Wis. Stat. § 48.415(10) would be tantamount to permitting a collateral attack on the prior order. A collateral attack on a judgment is “an attempt to avoid, evade, or deny the force and effect of a judgment in an indirect manner and not in a direct proceeding prescribed by law and instituted for the purpose of vacating, reviewing, or annulling it.” Zrimsek, 8 Wis. 2d 1, 3 (citing 5 Callaghan’s, Bryant, Wisconsin Pleading and Practice (3d ed.), p. 373, § 37.97). [12]

¶28 In general, “a judgment is binding on the parties and may not be attacked in a collateral action unless it was procured by fraud.” State v. Madison, 120 Wis. 2d 150, 154, 353 N.W.2d 835 (Ct. App. 1984) ….

 ¶33 … (W)e have applied Sixth Amendment concepts in the context of termination of parental rights proceedings, even though the proceedings are civil in nature and the Sixth Amendment does not apply to civil proceedings.

 ¶34 When a claim of denial of the right of counsel is made, the claimant has the burden to make a prima facie showing of a violation of the right to counsel. …

 ¶35 However, we need not determine whether the prior Waukesha County termination of rights order may be collaterally attacked due to a violation of the right to counsel because Nicole made no prima facie showing that she was denied the right of counsel in the termination of rights proceeding regarding Rockey. …



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