S. H., In re, 367-81

Citation448 A.2d 148,141 Vt. 278
Decision Date01 June 1982
Docket NumberNo. 367-81,367-81
PartiesIn re S. H.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Andrew B. Crane, Defender Gen., William A. Nelson, Appellate Defender, and Nancy E. Kaufman, Montpelier, for petitioner.

John J. Easton, Jr., Atty. Gen., Montpelier, and Andrew M. Eschen and Alan B. Coulman, Asst. Attys. Gen., Waterbury, for defendant.

Before BARNEY, C. J., BILLINGS, HILL and UNDERWOOD, JJ., and DALEY, J. (Ret.), Specially Assigned.

BILLINGS, Justice.

S.H., a delinquent minor, appeals the dismissal of her case by the Human Services Board, 3 V.S.A. § 3090, for lack of jurisdiction.

The petitioner was adjudicated a delinquent and placed in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, 3 V.S.A. § 3081. 33 V.S.A. § 657(a)(3). Pursuant to 33 V.S.A. § 632(b) the Commissioner of Corrections delegated the responsibility of providing supervision, care, and housing for delinquent minors to the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), 3 V.S.A. § 3084. While under the supervision of SRS the petitioner proved to be difficult to control, running away twice from a group home, and once from a foster home. As a result she was placed at the Bennington School, a residential school for girls, which is a much more restrictive environment than the group or foster homes. The petitioner appealed this decision to the Human Services Board as provided by 3 V.S.A. § 3091. The Board declined jurisdiction of the case and petitioner appealed to this Court. Since this appeal was commenced, S.H., who is still in the legal custody of Corrections, has been removed from the Bennington School and placed with her parents subject to supervision by SRS.

There are two issues on appeal: (1) whether the Human Services Board has jurisdiction of appeals of delinquent minors in the legal custody of the Commissioner of Corrections who receive services from the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services; and (2) whether removal of the petitioner from the Bennington School renders the appeal moot. Because we find this case is moot, we do not reach the first issue.

In Town of Cavendish v. Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, 141 Vt. 144, ---, 446 A.2d 792, 793 (1982), we recognized that the mootness doctrine has its roots in the Vermont Constitution. Vt.Const. ch. II, § 30 ("The Supreme Court shall exercise appellate jurisdiction in all cases ...."). Under the doctrine the petitioner's stake in the litigation must continue throughout its entirety to confer jurisdiction upon this Court. State v. O'Connell, 136 Vt. 43, 45, 383 A.2d 624, 625 (1978). The general rule is that a case becomes moot "when the issues presented are no longer 'live' or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome." United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 396, 100 S.Ct. 1202, 1208, 63 L.Ed.2d 479 (1980) (quoting Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 496, 89 S.Ct. 1944, 1951, 23 L.Ed.2d 491 (1969)).

Accordingly, the petitioner's appeal for review by the Human Services Board of her placement in the Bennington School was no longer "live" once she was removed from the school. Similarly, she no longer has a legally cognizable interest in the outcome of this case as she is not seeking damages or representing a class of juveniles similarly situated. Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. ----, ----, 102 S.Ct. 1181, 1183, 71 L.Ed.2d 353 (1982).

An exception to the general rule has been recognized in cases that are "capable of repetition, yet evading review." Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125, 93 S.Ct. 705, 713, 35 L.Ed.2d 147 (1973). But, in the absence of a class action, this exception is narrowly "limited to the situation where two elements [are] combined: (1) the challenged action was in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or expiration, and (2) there [is] a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party [will] be subjected to the same action again." Murphy v. Hunt, supra, 455 U.S. at ----, 102 S.Ct. at 1183 (quoting Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 149, 96 S.Ct. 347, 349, 46 L.Ed.2d 350 (1975)).

Although the first part of the test is satisfied here, the petitioner "has presented no evidence creating a reasonable expectation" that she will again be placed in the Bennington School or other similarly restrictive environment. Illinois State Board of Elections v. Socialist...

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28 cases
  • In re Blue Cross
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
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    ...the same year to year, this case inherently evades review, and the first prong of the mootness exception is met. Cf. In re S.H., 141 Vt. 278, 281, 448 A.2d 148, 150 (1982) (concluding that evading-review prong not met because "nothing inherent" in challenged action "which would normally pre......
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  • Skaskiw v. Vt. Agency of Agric.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 19 Diciembre 2014
    ...argues that we have recognized a mootness exception for cases that are “ ‘capable of repetition, yet evading review,’ ” In re S.H., 141 Vt. 278, 281, 448 A.2d 148, 149 (1982) (quoting Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125, 93 S.Ct. 705, 35 L.Ed.2d 147 (1973) ), and argues that it should apply here......
  • State v. Tallman, s. 84-341
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • 11 Septiembre 1987
    ...to the mootness doctrine is recognized, however, for cases that are " 'capable of repetition, yet evading review.' " In re S.H., 141 Vt. 278, 281, 448 A.2d 148, 149 (1982) (quoting Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125, 93 S.Ct. 705, 713, 35 L.Ed.2d 147 (1973)); see also United States v. Brooklier......
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