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Prisoner – Involuntary Commitment

WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: Marathon County v. R.J.O.

Case No.: 2018AP1037

Officials: Stark, P.J., Hruz and Seidl, JJ.

Focus: Prisoner – Involuntary Commitment

R.J.O. was involuntarily committed under WIS. STAT. § 51.20 (2017-18), and her commitment was later extended. However, the circuit court subsequently granted R.J.O.’s postdisposition motion to dismiss her commitment. The court agreed with R.J.O. that it had lost competency to consider Marathon County’s petition to extend her commitment when it failed to hold a recommitment hearing before the initial commitment expired.

The County now appeals, arguing the circuit court erred by granting R.J.O.’s postdisposition motion because the time for holding a recommitment hearing was extended when the court issued an order for R.J.O.’s detention under WIS. STAT. § 51.20(10)(d). R.J.O. cross-appeals, arguing the court erred by holding that she received proper notice of the originally scheduled recommitment hearing. R.J.O. also argues her trial attorney was ineffective by advising her not to appear at that hearing. In addition, R.J.O. argues the court incorrectly determined that she did not timely demand a jury trial. In the alternative, she argues that if the court’s conclusion in that regard was correct, her trial attorney was ineffective by failing to timely file a jury trial demand.

Based on our supreme court’s recent decision in Waukesha County v. S.L.L., 2019 WI 66, 387 Wis. 2d 333, 929 N.W.2d 140, we agree with the circuit court that R.J.O. received proper notice of the recommitment hearing because the requisite notice was provided to her attorney. Moreover, it is undisputed in this case that R.J.O.’s attorney provided her with actual notice of the recommitment hearing, which the subject individual in S.L.L. did not receive.

Although we agree with the circuit court that R.J.O. received proper notice of the recommitment hearing, we reject the court’s conclusion that it lost competency to consider the County’s petition to extend R.J.O.’s commitment when it failed to hold a recommitment hearing before the original commitment expired. We instead agree with the County that the time to hold a recommitment hearing was extended when R.J.O. failed to appear at the originally scheduled recommitment hearing and the court therefore issued an order for detention. We reject the remaining arguments raised in R.J.O.’s cross-appeal. Accordingly, we reverse the order granting R.J.O.’s postdisposition motion to dismiss her commitment.

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Derek A Hawkins is trademark corporate counsel for Harley-Davidson. Hawkins oversees the prosecution and maintenance of the Harley-Davidson’s international trademark portfolio in emerging markets.

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