245 P.3d 572 (Nev. 2010), 55429, Personhood Nevada v. Bristol

Docket Nº:55429.
Citation:245 P.3d 572, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. 56
Opinion Judge:HARDESTY, J.:
Party Name:PERSONHOOD NEVADA, A Ballot Advocacy Group; Richard Ziser; Olaf Vancura; and Kenneth Wilson, Individuals, Appellants, v. Emmily BRISTOL; Mindy Hsu, RPH.; and William Ramos, M.D., Respondents.
Attorney:Michael L. Peters, Las Vegas; Brooks Bauer LLP and Michael R. Brooks, Las Vegas, for Appellants. American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and Lee B. Rowland and Margaret A. McLetchie, Reno; American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Diana Kasdan and Jennifer E. Dalven, New York, NY; Kaempfer C...
Judge Panel:We concur: PARRAGUIRRE, C.J., DOUGLAS, CHERRY, SAITTA, GIBBONS, and PICKERING, JJ.
Case Date:December 30, 2010
Court:Supreme Court of Nevada
 
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Page 572

245 P.3d 572 (Nev. 2010)

126 Nev. Adv. Op. 56

PERSONHOOD NEVADA, A Ballot Advocacy Group; Richard Ziser; Olaf Vancura; and Kenneth Wilson, Individuals, Appellants,

v.

Emmily BRISTOL; Mindy Hsu, RPH.; and William Ramos, M.D., Respondents.

No. 55429.

Supreme Court of Nevada.

December 30, 2010

Page 573

Michael L. Peters, Las Vegas; Brooks Bauer LLP and Michael R. Brooks, Las Vegas, for Appellants.

American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and Lee B. Rowland and Margaret A. McLetchie, Reno; American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Diana Kasdan and Jennifer E. Dalven, New York, NY; Kaempfer Crowell Renshaw Gronauer & Fiorentino and John W. Griffin, Jason Woodbury, and Severin A. Carlson, Carson City; Planned Parenthood of America, Inc., and Mimi Liu, Washington, D.C., for Respondents.

Before the Court En Banc.

OPINION

HARDESTY, J.:

This is an appeal from a district court order determining that a proposed initiative violated NRS 295.009's single-subject rule and enjoining its placement on the 2010 general election ballot. Before this appeal could be decided, the deadline for submitting initiative signatures to the Secretary of State passed without the initiative's proponents having submitted any signatures, and the 2010 general election concluded without the initiative being included on the ballot. As a result, even if this court were to reverse the district court's order, we could grant no effective relief from that order, rendering this appeal moot. Because the appeal is moot, we dismiss it. In so doing, we address whether issue preclusion principles apply to the district court's order, even though the appeal from that order is dismissed as moot, and we conclude that they do not.

FACTS

In anticipation of the November 2010 general election, appellant Personhood Nevada, an advocacy group, filed with the Secretary of State a ballot initiative proposing to amend Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution. 1 After the initiative petition was filed with the Secretary of State, respondents, interested persons and Nevada registered voters, sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the district court, asserting that the initiative petition impermissibly encompassed more than one subject and contained a misleading and insufficient description of effect.2 See NRS 295.009; NRS 295.061. The district court determined that appellants' proposed amendment violated NRS 295.009's single-subject rule because it was " too general and vague" to identify a single subject and because its widespread effects were neither sufficiently related and germane to a single subject nor described in a manner that would inform the petition signers and voters of the

Page 574

initiative's varied consequences. Based on those findings, the district court enjoined the Secretary of State from placing the initiative on the November 2010 general election ballot.

Appellants then appealed the district court's injunctive order to this court. However, before our review of the matter could be completed, the June 15, 2010, deadline for submitting proposed initiatives to the Secretary of State passed without appellants obtaining the necessary number of signatures or submitting the initiative to the Secretary. Nev. Const. art. 19, §§ 2(4) and 3(2); We the People Nevada v. Secretary of State, 124 Nev. 874, 192 P.3d 1166 (2008). Accordingly, we directed appellants to show cause why this appeal should not be dismissed as moot. In responding, the parties were also asked to address a second question: whether, in the event that this court determines that this appeal is moot, the district court's order should be vacated to avoid any preclusive effects on future efforts to qualify a similar initiative. In addition, respondents filed a motion to dismiss this appeal as moot, for the same reason noted in our show-cause order. Appellants concurrently opposed the motion and responded to the show-cause order, and respondents filed a reply. Both parties filed supplemental briefs addressing the vacatur issue. After the supplemental briefs were filed, the November 2010 general election concluded.

DISCUSSION

This appeal is moot

The question of mootness is one of justiciability. This court's duty is not to render advisory opinions but...

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