2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 55. Protective service system.
55.10 Hearing on petition for protective services or protective placement.
55.10 Hearing on petition for protective services or protective placement.
(1) Time limits. A petition for protective placement or protective services shall be heard within 60 days after it is filed unless an extension of this time is requested by the petitioner, the individual sought to be protected or the individual's guardian ad litem, or the county department, in which case the court may extend the date for hearing by up to 45 days. If an individual under s. 50.06 (3) alleges that another individual is making a health care decision under s. 50.06 (5) (a) that is not in the best interests of the incapacitated individual or if the incapacitated individual verbally objects to or otherwise actively protests the admission, the petition shall be heard as soon as possible within the 60-day period.
(2) Attendance. The petitioner shall ensure that the individual sought to be protected attends the hearing on the petition unless, after a personal interview, the guardian ad litem waives the attendance and so certifies in writing to the court the specific reasons why the individual is unable to attend. In determining whether to waive attendance by the individual, the guardian ad litem shall consider the ability of the individual to understand and meaningfully participate, the effect of the individual's attendance on his or her physical or psychological health in relation to the importance of the proceeding, and the individual's expressed desires. If the individual is unable to attend a hearing only because of residency in a nursing home or other facility, physical inaccessibility, or lack of transportation, the court shall, if requested by the individual, the individual's guardian ad litem, the individual's counsel, or other interested person, hold the hearing in a place where the individual is able to attend.
(3) Hearing to be open. The hearing shall be open, unless the individual sought to be protected, or his or her attorney acting with the consent of the individual sought to be protected, requests that it be closed. If the hearing is closed, only persons in interest, including representatives of providers of service and their attorneys and witnesses, may be present.
(4) Rights. Sections 54.42, 54.44, and 54.46 and the following provisions apply to all hearings under this chapter except transfers of placement under s. 55.15 and summary hearings under ss. 55.18 (3) (d) and 55.19 (3) (d):
(a) Counsel. The individual sought to be protected has the right to counsel whether or not the individual is present at the hearing on the petition. The court shall require representation by full legal counsel whenever the petition alleges that the individual is not competent to refuse psychotropic medication under s. 55.14, the individual sought to be protected requested such representation at least 72 hours before the hearing, the guardian ad litem or any other person states that the individual sought to be protected is opposed to the petition, or the court determines that the interests of justice require it. If the individual sought to be protected or any other person on his or her behalf requests but is unable to obtain legal counsel, the court shall refer the individual to the state public defender as provided under s. 55.105 for appointment of legal counsel. If the individual sought to be protected is represented by counsel appointed under s. 977.08 in a proceeding for the appointment of a guardian under ch. 54, the court shall order the counsel appointed under s. 977.08 to represent under this section the individual sought to be protected.
(b) Guardian ad litem; costs. The court shall in all cases require the appointment of an attorney as guardian ad litem in accordance with s. 757.48 (1). The responsibilities and duties of a guardian ad litem on behalf of a proposed ward or individual who is alleged incompetent specified in s. 54.40 apply to a guardian ad litem appointed in a proceeding for protective services or protective placement on behalf of an individual sought to be protected. If a guardian has been appointed for an individual who is the subject of a petition for court-ordered protective placement or protective services, the guardian ad litem shall interview the guardian. The guardian ad litem shall be present at all hearings under this chapter if the individual sought to be protected does not have full legal counsel. The court may, however, excuse a personal appearance by a guardian ad litem based on information contained in a written report by the guardian ad litem to the court. If the individual sought to be protected is an adult who is indigent, the county shall be liable for any fees due the guardian ad litem. If the individual sought to be protected is a minor, the minor's parents or the county in which the hearing is held shall be liable for any fees due the guardian ad litem as provided in s. 48.235 (8).
(c) Trial by jury; right to cross examine witnesses. The individual sought to be protected has the right to a trial by a jury if demanded by the individual sought to be protected or his or her attorney or guardian ad litem. The number of jurors shall be determined under s. 756.06 (2) (b). The individual sought to be protected, and the individual's attorney and guardian ad litem have the right to present and cross-examine witnesses, including any person making an evaluation or review under s. 55.11.
(d) Standard of proof. Before protective placement or protective services may be ordered under s. 55.12, the court or jury must find by clear and convincing evidence that the individual to be protected is in need of protective placement because he or she meets all of the standards under s. 55.08 (1) or is in need of protective services because he or she meets all of the standards under s. 55.08 (2).
(e) Independent evaluation. The individual sought to be protected has the right to secure an independent evaluation as provided in s. 55.11 (2).
The statutory provisions for an interested person's formal participation in guardianship and protective placement hearings are specific and limited. No statute provides for interested persons to demand a trial, present evidence, or raise evidentiary objections. A court could consider such participation helpful and, in its discretion, could allow an interested person to participate to the extent it considers appropriate. Coston v. Joseph P. 222 Wis. 2d 1, 586 N.W.2d 52 (Ct. App. 1998), 97-1210.
Section 907.03 does not allow the proponent of an expert to use the expert solely as a conduit for the hearsay opinions of others. While in a civil proceeding there is no independent right to confront and cross-examine expert witnesses under the state and federal constitutions, procedures used to appoint a guardian and protectively place an individual must conform to the essentials of due process. Walworth County v. Therese B. 2003 WI App 223, 267 Wis. 2d 310, 671 N.W.2d 377, 03-0967.
NOTE: The above annotations relate to protective placements under ch. 55, stats., prior to the revision of that chapter by 2005 Wis. Act 264.
It would be unreasonable to not permit a forfeiture of the right to attend the hearing regardless of the respondent's conduct. The right may be forfeited if after having been warned by the judge that he or she will be removed if he or she continues the disruptive behavior, the respondent nevertheless insists on conducting himself or herself in a manner so disorderly, disruptive, and disrespectful of the court that the hearing cannot be carried on with him or her in the courtroom. Jefferson County v. Joseph S. 2010 WI App 160, 330 Wis. 2d 737, 795 N.W.2d 450, 09-804.