In re A.K.G., 270 N.C. App. 409 (2020)

  • Facts: Respondent father appeals a permanency planning order that eliminated reunification as a permanent plan. During the pendency of the appeal the juvenile turned 18.
  • Moot:
    • Under G.S. 7B-201(a), the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction over the juvenile proceeding terminates when the juvenile reaches the age of majority. The permanent plan is no longer in effect. Any order by the court of appeals would have no practical effect as the trial court has no jurisdiction.
    • None of the exceptions to the mootness doctrine apply in this case. Unlike an adjudication order or a termination of parental rights order, there are no collateral consequences from a permanency planning order that has unfavorable findings of fact. Contrary to respondent’s assertion, “[f]indings of fact in a court order from an unrelated legal proceeding are not proper subjects of judicial notice” in a civil custody proceeding for another child. Sl.Op. at 5. The limited exception based on clear and significant public interest issues is not triggered by a fact-bound order involving a permanent plan for a specific juvenile. The capable of repetition yet evading review exception does not apply to this case, where the challenge is to findings of fact and legal conclusions that are specific to the case.
    • Noting that the “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.” Sl.Op. at 2.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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