In the interest of A. L., a person under the age of 17:
A. L., Respondent-Respondent-Petitioner. State of Wisconsin, Petitioner-Appellant,
Submitted on Briefs: Oral Argument: November 5, 2 018
of Appeal: Circuit county L.C. No. 2012JV389A: Milwaukee
Christopher T. Dee, Judge.
OF DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS Reported at 378 Wis.2d
721, 904 N.W.2d 543');">904 N.W.2d 543 PDC No:2017 WI.App. 72
the respondent-respondent-petitioner, there were briefs filed
by Jorge R. Fragoso, assistant state public defender. There
was an oral argument by Jorge R. Fragoso.
the petitioner-appellant, there was a brief filed by Luke N.
Berg, deputy solicitor general, with whom on the brief was
Brad D. Schimel, attorney general, and Misha Tseytlin,
solicitor general. There was an oral argument by Luke N.
REBECCA FRANK DALLET, J.
The Milwaukee County Circuit Court, T. Christopher Dee
presiding, denied the State's motion to recall A.L.'s
juvenile delinquency proceedings. We review the court of
appeals' decision reversing the circuit
A.L. seeks review of two issues: (1) whether a circuit court
can resume suspended juvenile delinquency proceedings to
reexamine the competency of a juvenile who was initially
found not competent to proceed under Wis.Stat. §
938.30(5)(d) (2015-16) and not likely to become competent within
the statutory time limits; and (2) whether the circuit court
retains competency over juvenile delinquency proceedings
after an accompanying juvenile in need of protection or
services (JIPS) order has expired.
We conclude that a circuit court can resume suspended
juvenile delinquency proceedings to reexamine the competency
of a juvenile who was initially found not competent and not
likely to become competent within the statutory time frame.
We also conclude that a circuit court retains competency over
juvenile delinquency proceedings even after an accompanying
JIPS order has expired. Accordingly, we affirm the decision
of the court of appeals.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE
The juvenile delinquency petition at issue pertains to an
incident that occurred in November 2012 when A.L. was 15
years old. Milwaukee police officers were dispatched to a
residence where they found a man lying on the front porch
with a stab wound to his chest. During a search of the
residence, the officers recovered a silver metal knife in the
kitchen sink. A.L. admitted to an officer that he had stabbed
his 25-year-old cousin after observing him violently fighting
with A.L.'s 16-year-old brother.
A delinquency petition was filed in November 2012 when A.L.
was 15 years old, alleging A.L. committed second-degree
reckless homicide while armed with a dangerous weapon. At
A.L.'s plea hearing, defense counsel challenged
A.L.'s competency to proceed. The circuit court suspended
the proceedings and ordered two competency evaluations of
A.L. Both psychologists found A.L. not competent and not
likely to become competent within the statutory time frame,
and the circuit court agreed. Pursuant to Wis.Stat. §
938.30(5) (d), the circuit court suspended the delinquency
proceedings against A.L., entered a JIPS order, and placed
A.L. in a residential treatment center. A.L.'s JIPS order
was later extended for another year and expired in March
While the JIPS order was pending, the State filed additional
charges against A.L.: (1) a June 2014 juvenile delinquency
petition alleging criminal damage to property; and (2) a
December 2014 complaint alleging battery, criminal damage to
property, and disorderly conduct in adult criminal
court. In the 2014 delinquency proceedings, A.L.
was found not competent and not likely to become competent
within the one-year statutory time frame. The circuit court
suspended the proceedings and entered another JIPS order
which expired in October 2015. However, in the adult criminal
proceedings A.L. was found not competent but likely to become
competent. A.L. was then sent to Mendota Mental Health
Facility in March 2015 for competency remediation. In May
2015, a doctor at Mendota found A.L. competent to proceed.
A.L. did not challenge this competency finding and pled
guilty to the battery and criminal damage to property
As a result of the competency finding in the adult criminal
proceedings, the State moved for a reevaluation of A.L.'s
competency in the 2014 delinquency proceedings. After hearing
testimony, the circuit court found A.L. competent and resumed
proceedings on the June 2014 delinquency petition.
The State then filed a motion to recall for reconsideration
of A.L.'s competency in the November 2012 juvenile
delinquency case. The circuit court held that under the
circumstances, where A.L. was initially found not competent
and unlikely to become competent, Wis.Stat. § 938.30(5)
did not provide a procedure for reinstating the suspended
delinquency proceedings. Therefore, the circuit court denied
the State's motion and ruled that the proceedings
remained suspended, and "just kind of sit in
limbo." The State appealed the circuit court's
The court of appeals reversed and remanded the matter,
concluding that Wis.Stat. § 938.30(5) (d) allows the
circuit court to retain authority over delinquency
proceedings where the juvenile remains not competent such
that the circuit court may revisit the issue of competency
when circumstances warrant reevaluation. See State v.
A.L., 2017 WI.App. 72, ¶36, 378 Wis.2d 721, 904
N.W.2d 543. The court of appeals determined that §
938.30(5)(d) was ambiguous and therefore relied upon
legislative history to determine its meaning. See id.,
A.L. seeks review of two issues: (1) whether a circuit court
can resume suspended delinquency proceedings to reexamine the
competency of a juvenile who was initially found not
competent to proceed under Wis.Stat. § 938.30(5)(d) and
not likely to become competent within the statutory time
limits; and (2) whether the circuit court retains competency
over delinquency proceedings after an accompanying JIPS order
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The focus in this case is on the interpretation of Wis.Stat.
§ 938.30(5), the statute that governs competency within
the Juvenile Justice Code. Statutory interpretation is a
question of law that this court reviews de novo. Noffke
ex rel. Swenson v. Bakke,2009 WI 10, ¶9, 315
Wis.2d 350, 760 N.W.2d 156. The purpose of statutory
interpretation is to "determine what the statute means
so that it may be given its full, proper, and intended
effect." State ex rel. Kalal v. Circuit Court for
Dane Cty.,2004 WI 58, ¶44, 271 Wis.2d 633, 681
N.W.2d 110. Statutory language is "given its common,
ordinary, and accepted meaning," unless there are
technical or specially-defined words or phrases.
Id., ¶45. "A statute's purpose or
scope may be readily apparent ...