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In re Involuntary Treatment of S.

Supreme Court of Maine

December 10, 2019

IN RE INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT OF S.

          Submitted On Briefs: October 24, 2019

          Joseph P. Belisle, Esq., Bangor, for appellant Steven L.

          Arrian Stockdell, Esq., Brewer, for appellee Acadia Hospital Corporation.

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          HUMPHREY, J. [1]

         [¶1] S. appeals from an order of the Superior Court (Penobscot County, A. Murray, J.) affirming an order of the District Court (Bangor, Campbell, J.) admitting him to a progressive treatment program (PTP). We dismiss the appeal as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] On August 28, 2018, Acadia Hospital Corporation applied for an order admitting S. to a PTP. See 34-B M.R.S. § 3873-A (2018). The court scheduled a hearing on the application and appointed a psychologist to examine S. The psychologist examined him by telephone on August 29, 2018, and filed his report with the court on August 31, 2018. The report was admitted without objection.

         [¶3] The District Court held a hearing on the application on August 31, 2018, during which it heard testimony from the psychologist; a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, who treated and provided care for S.; and S. himself. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court found, by clear and convincing evidence, that all of the elements required for an order of admission to the PTP were met. See 34-B M.R.S. § 3873-A(1). The court entered an order admitting S. to the PTP and committing him to the care and supervision of Acadia for one year.

         [¶4] S. timely appealed to the Superior Court pursuant to Rule 76D of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure. He made no effort to expedite the appeal in the Superior Court. That court held a hearing on May 16, 2019, and entered an order affirming the District Court's order on May 20, 2019. S. filed a timely notice of appeal on June 7, 2019. M.R. Civ. P. 2B(c)(1).

         II. DISCUSSION

         [¶5] Although neither party has raised the issue of mootness, we do so sua sponte. See In re Steven L., 2017 ME 5, ¶ 7, 153 A.3d 764 [Steven L. II). In general, we will not "hear an appeal when the issues are moot, that is, when they have lost their controversial vitality, and [a] decision would not provide an appellant any real or effective relief." Id. ¶ 8.

         [¶6] More than one year has passed since the District Court entered its order on August 31, 2018. By statute, and by the terms of the court's order, the PTP could not exceed twelve months, and therefore the order has expired. See id. ¶ 7; 34-B M.R.S. § 3873-A(6). Unless an exception to the mootness doctrine applies, the appeal must be dismissed.

         [¶7] There are three exceptions to the mootness doctrine: (1) the collateral consequences exception, which allows for review of a controversy where sufficient collateral consequences result from the appealed matter so as to justify relief; (2) the public interest exception, which permits questions of great public interest to be addressed to guide the bar and the public; and (3) an exception that allows the review of matters that are repeatedly presented to trial courts but ...


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