In re A.K.G., 031720 NCCA, COA18-1222

Docket Nº:COA18-1222
Opinion Judge:DIETZ, JUDGE
Party Name:IN THE MATTER OF: A.K.G.
Attorney:Christopher L. Carr and Taniya Reaves for petitioner-appellee Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services. Anné C. Wright for respondent-appellant father. Administrative Office of the Courts, by GAL Appellate Counsel Matthew D. Wunsche, for guardian ad litem.
Judge Panel:Judges STROUD and HAMPSON concur.
Case Date:March 17, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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IN THE MATTER OF: A.K.G.

No. COA18-1222

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

March 17, 2020

Heard in the Court of Appeals 31 October 2019.

Appeal by respondent from order entered 26 March 2018 by Judge Lora C. Cubbage in Guilford County No. 16 JA 181 District Court.

Christopher L. Carr and Taniya Reaves for petitioner-appellee Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services.

Anné C. Wright for respondent-appellant father.

Administrative Office of the Courts, by GAL Appellate Counsel Matthew D. Wunsche, for guardian ad litem.

DIETZ, JUDGE

Respondent appeals a permanency planning order that changed the permanent plan for his daughter Adele.[1] While this appeal was pending, Adele reached the age of majority, thus terminating the trial court's juvenile jurisdiction.

This Court ordered supplemental briefing to address whether the appeal is now moot. After reviewing the parties' submissions, we hold that Respondent's appeal does not fall within any applicable exceptions to the mootness doctrine.

The challenged order, which merely changed Adele's permanent plan, does not create the sort of collateral consequences that exist with an order adjudicating a juvenile as neglected or an order terminating parental rights. Similarly, there is nothing about the trial court's fact-bound permanency planning decision, unique to this particular case, that could warrant application of the public interest exception. Finally, the particularized trial court errors that Respondent asserts in this appeal are not the sort of issues that are "capable of repetition yet evading review" so as to preclude mootness.

We therefore dismiss this appeal as moot. We note, however, that our State's appellate system goes to rather extraordinary lengths to expedite these juvenile cases and it is, and should be, rare for a juvenile case to be rendered moot in this way.

Facts and Procedural History

In 2016, the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services filed a petition alleging Adele was a neglected and dependent juvenile and took custody of Adele later that day. After a hearing, the trial court entered an order adjudicating Adele to be a neglected and dependent juvenile. The court set Adele's primary permanent plan of care as reunification with a parent and set her secondary plan as guardianship with a relative.

Following this initial adjudication, the trial court conducted a series of permanency planning review hearings. In 2017, the trial court changed the primary permanent plan to guardianship with...

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