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Voluntariness of Plea to Grounds for Termination, Procedure for Challenging, Confusion of Parent

Kenosha Co. DHS v. Jodi W. 2006 WI 93, reversing summary order

Issue/Holding: The circuit court must undertake a colloquy with the parent tracking § 48.422(7); the parent must know the rights being waived; and on a challenge to the plea the parent must make a prima facie showing that the colloquy was defective and also allege a lack of understanding of the omitted information, ¶¶25-26, citing State v. Bangert, 131 Wis. 2d 246, 389 N.W.2d 12 (1986) and Waukesha County v. Steven H., 2000 WI 28, 233 Wis. 2d 344, 607 N.W.2d 607.

Typically, of course, where the plea is under review the parent filed a motion to withdraw plea but in this instance the case arrived at the appellate level via a no-merit report without a trial-level motion to withdraw plea. The court nonetheless perceives no procedural impediment to review, ¶¶27-28.

Issue/Holding: The trial court failure to address numerous alterations made by the parent to the written plea questionnaire which created discrepancies with respect to the plea, and further failure to resolve the parent’s equivocations during the oral plea colloquy established that the parent’s no contest plea to grounds for TPR was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary, ¶¶29-38.

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