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State ex rel. J.S. v. State

Court of Appeals of Utah

January 6, 2017

STATE OF UTAH, IN THE INTEREST OF J.S., A PERSON UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE.
v.
State of Utah, Appellee. J.S., Appellant,

         Third District Juvenile Court, West Jordan Department The Honorable Elizabeth A. Lindsley No. 1084845

          Monica Maio and Steven K. Beck, Attorneys for Appellant.

          Sean D. Reyes and Tera J. Peterson, Attorneys for Appellee.

          Judge Jill M. Pohlman authored this Memorandum Decision, in which Judges Stephen L. Roth and Michele M. Christiansen concurred.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

          POHLMAN, Judge.

         ¶1 J.S. appeals the juvenile court's disposition order of detention. We conclude that this appeal is moot and we therefore dismiss it.

         ¶2 In the summer of 2015, the State filed several delinquency petitions against J.S. At a detention hearing, the juvenile court found that it would be "unsafe for the public" to release J.S. and that J.S. could not "be safely left in the care and custody" of his parent. As a result, on August 27, 2015, the court ordered J.S. to be held in the temporary physical custody of the Division of Juvenile Justice Services in secure detention pending his next hearing. See Utah Code Ann. § 78A-6-113(4)(d) (LexisNexis 2012) (allowing the juvenile court to hold a minor in detention "subject to further order of the court" if the court "finds at a detention hearing that it is not safe to release the minor").

         ¶3 At the next hearing on September 1, 2015, J.S. admitted to two allegations. The juvenile court found that the two admitted allegations against J.S. were "true and correct, " and the court dismissed the remaining allegations. In addition, the court ordered J.S. to be held in detention "pending further order of the Court, " ordered J.S. to complete a substance abuse evaluation and a psychological evaluation while in detention, and took "further disposition under advisement." A transcript of this hearing is not part of the record on appeal.

         ¶4 On September 14, 2015, the juvenile court held a hearing for further disposition. During the hearing, the juvenile court, among other things, placed J.S. on probation and ordered him to serve thirty days in detention, with five days to be served immediately and the remaining twenty-five days suspended. J.S. objected, arguing that under Utah Code section 78A-6-117, the court could order a total of thirty days in detention post-adjudication and that because J.S. was "ordered to detention on September 1 when he was adjudicated, " he was "14 days into his 30 day commitment." The juvenile court overruled J.S.'s objection, explaining that "[t]he record will . . . reflect that the Court did not issue a thirty (30) day commitment to detention [at the September 1, 2015 hearing], but that the Court set disposition over so that the necessary evaluations could be completed . . . [while J.S. was] in detention." J.S. filed a notice of appeal.

         ¶5 Subsequently, in January 2016, J.S. admitted to new allegations against him. In response, the juvenile court terminated probation and committed J.S. to thirty days in detention, with seven days to be served immediately and twenty-three days suspended. In August 2016, the juvenile court terminated its jurisdiction over J.S.

         ¶6 J.S. appeals the September 14, 2015 disposition order. He contends that the "juvenile court erred when it entered a disposition order for thirty days of detention because J.S. had already served fourteen days of detention and Utah Code section 78A-6-117(2)(f) specifically precludes the juvenile court from ordering more than thirty days of detention upon adjudication."

         ¶7 Before we reach the merits of this issue, we must determine whether this appeal is moot. "Where the issues that were before the [juvenile] court no longer exist, the appellate court will not review the case." In re adoption of L.O., 2012 UT 23, ¶ 8, 282 P.3d 977 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "An appeal is moot if during the pendency of the appeal circumstances change so that the controversy is eliminated, thereby rendering the relief requested impossible or of no legal effect." Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         ¶8 The State contends that this appeal is moot because the juvenile court terminated its jurisdiction over J.S. We agree. Because the juvenile court has terminated its jurisdiction, there is no possibility that J.S. will be required to serve the remainder of his thirty-day detention. Cf. In re O.P., 2016 UT App 181, ¶ 5 n.2, 380 P.3d 69 (concluding that an appeal is not moot where the possibility exists that a juvenile could still be required to serve a suspended term in jail if he fails to abide by the juvenile court's order).[1] Consequently, any decision from this court about whether the juvenile court erred in ordering a thirty-day detention in September 2015 would have no direct legal effect. See In re adoption of L.O., 2012 UT 23, ¶ 8.

         ¶9 J.S. contends that this appeal is not moot because "the relief [he] seeks . . . extends to correcting [the juvenile court's] unlawful order on J.S.'s permanent juvenile record." According to J.S., "if this appeal is deemed moot, the unlawful order will remain on J.S.'s permanent juvenile court record indefinitely unless and until the juvenile court exercises its discretion and grants an expungement." But J.S. does not cite any pertinent authority to support his contention that he is entitled to a corrected order. See ASC Utah, Inc. v. Wolf Mountain Resorts, LC, 2013 UT 24, ¶ 16, 309 P.3d 201 (noting that appellants have the burden to provide reasoned argument and legal authority); In re A.C., 2 ...


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