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Plain Error – Mental Commitment

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//February 27, 2023//

Plain Error – Mental Commitment

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//February 27, 2023//

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WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: Outagamie County v. C. J. A.

Case No.: 2022AP000230

Officials: Hruz, J.

Focus: Plain Error – Mental Commitment

Catherine appeals two orders entered under WIS. STAT. ch. 51: one recommitting her for twelve months, and another requiring the involuntary administration of medication and treatment. Catherine argues that the circuit court lacked competency to hold a recommitment hearing due to Outagamie County’s failure to abide by statutory timelines. Catherine further argues that the court committed plain error by admitting hearsay evidence derived from Catherine’s treatment record.

Regarding the first issue, the appeals court agrees that the circuit court lost competency by postponing the final hearing for more than seven days past the date of the originally scheduled final hearing, thereby violating WIS. STAT. § 51.20(10)(e). The court concludes, though, that Catherine is judicially estopped from advancing this argument on appeal, given the specific circumstances surrounding the postponement. As to the second issue, Catherine failed to object to the admission of the hearsay evidence at the circuit court level—thus her need to argue plain error—and the appeals court is not convinced that what she alleges constitutes plain error. The appeals court therefore declines to apply the plain error doctrine on this matter.


Decided 02/17/23

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