- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Supreme Court says defendants must be allowed to present their cases in court.

The ruling involves a 2016 Milwaukee case. State officials alleged a man identified as Mr. K in court documents had abandoned his children and should be stripped of his parental rights.

The state presented its arguments during a bench trial. Before Mr. K could present his case, Judge Christopher Foley ruled he had abandoned the children and later that day terminated his rights.

The Supreme Court ruled 4-2 on Tuesday that denying Mr. K a chance to present his case is a structural error so harmful that it warrants automatic reversal.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Westphal is handling the case for the state. He said Tuesday he hadn’t read the decision.

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