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In re Desmond F.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin
795 N.W.2d 730 (2011)


Facts

Brenda (defendant) was Desmond's biological mother. However, Desmond was found to be a child in need of the state's protection. As a result, Desmond was placed in foster care. After some time, Desmond's foster mother wanted to adopt him. The Brown County Department of Human Services (the county) (plaintiff) filed a petition for Brenda's parental rights to be terminated. Brenda opposed the county's petition and requested a fact-finding hearing. However, Brenda later decided that she did not wish to oppose the county's petition and sought to plead no contest. The circuit-court judge, Brenda's lawyer, and the county's attorney all advised Brenda of the severe effect of pleading no contest. Even still, Brenda advised that she wished to plead no contest to the county's petition, alleging that Desmond was in need of the state's protection. The circuit-court judge then held a disposition hearing and determined that it was in Desmond's best interests for Brenda's parental rights to be terminated. Following the hearing, Brenda wished to withdraw her no-contest plea, and she appealed the decision. The court of appeals remanded the case to the circuit court. The circuit court found that Brenda had been advised of the severe effect of her decision to plead no contest, but proceeded regardless. Brenda then appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bradley, J.)

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