WI Court of Appeals – District III
Case Name: State of Wisconsin v. Troy Allen Lanning
Case No.: 2021AP001849
Officials: Hruz, J.
Focus: Civil Forfeiture
In the spring of 2020, the State charged Lanning with several felony drug offenses in Burnett County case No. 2020CF153 and it filed a separate action against Lanning seeking forfeiture of drug-related money. In addition to those two cases, the State also filed a second civil forfeiture action—the action at issue in this appeal—seeking forfeiture of a parcel of real property that Lanning allegedly used to distribute and deliver methamphetamine and “used in the commission of a felony.
Lanning appeals an order denying the State’s motion to dismiss a civil forfeiture action against him, arguing that the circuit court lost competency to proceed with that action because the court failed to hold a hearing within sixty days of his answer to the State’s forfeiture complaint, as required by WIS. STAT. § 961.555(2)(b) and our holding in State v. One 2000 Lincoln Navigator, 2007 WI App 127, 301 Wis. 2d 714, 731 N.W.2d 375. Lanning further contends that the sixty-day hearing deadline in subsec. (2)(b) applies even if the forfeiture proceedings are automatically adjourned under subsec. (2)(a).
The appeals court rejects Lanning’s arguments. WISCONSIN STAT. § 961.555(2)(a) automatically adjourns forfeiture proceedings “until after the defendant is convicted of any charge concerning a crime which was the basis for the seizure of the property.” See id. In order to give reasonable effect to that mandatory adjournment, the appeals court concludes that the sixty-day hearing deadline in subsec. (2)(b) cannot begin until after the defendant’s requisite conviction. Once the defendant has been convicted of a requisite charge and has filed an answer to the State’s forfeiture complaint, the circuit court is required to hold a hearing within sixty days or else it loses competency pursuant to the appeals court holding in State v. One 2000 Lincoln Navigator. Here, because Lanning had not yet been convicted of a charge that was the basis for the seizure of his property, the forfeiture proceedings were adjourned under subsec. (2)(a), and the court could not lose competency under subsec. (2)(b).