The Idaho Court of Appeals recently addressed when an appeal is moot and when it is appropriate for an appellate court to review an otherwise moot issue. Hansen v. Denney, 2015 Opinion No. 14 (Mar. 27, 2015), does not add much to Idaho jurisprudence on the mootness doctrine but continues a line of cases that recognize important exceptions to the doctrine.
Mootness can be raised at any time, including for the first time on appeal. A case is moot if it does not present a real and substantial controversy and a judicial decision will have no practical effect on the outcome. There are, however, three exceptions to the mootness doctrine. A court can review a moot question if: (1) there is the possibility of collateral legal consequences imposed on the person raising the issue; (2) the challenged conduct is likely to evade judicial review, yet is capable of repetition; and (3) it raises concerns of substantial public interest.
In Hansen, the Court of Appeals found an appeal from a decision declining to place Caleb Hansen’s name on a general election ballot was moot. Hansen had appealed the decision to the district court, which dismissed the appeal as untimely. The Court of Appeals found the question moot because the election—which took place in November 2014—had passed. Nevertheless, the court addressed the question of timeliness because the case presented issues of substantial public importance that are capable of repetition, yet evade review.
Again, Hansen does not break new ground but should be reviewed along with other recent cases addressing the exceptions to mootness, including Nampa Education Ass’n v. Nampa School District No. 131, 158 Idaho 87, 343 P.3d 1094, 1097 (2015); Koch v. Canyon County, 145 Idaho 158, 163, 177 P.3d 372, 377 (2008); and Ameritel Inns, Inc. v. Greater Boise Auditorium District, 141 Idaho 849, 851–52, 119 P.3d 624, 626–27 (2005).