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In re DJS-Y

Supreme Court of Wyoming

May 12, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF: DJS-Y and APY, Minor Children,
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Petitioner). CY, Appellant (Respondent),

         Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County The Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge

         Representing Appellant:

          Kenneth B. DeCock, Plains Law Offices, LLP, Sheridan, Wyoming.

         Representing Appellee:

          Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; Misha Westby, Deputy Attorney General; Shawnna M. Herron, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jill E. Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Herron.

         Guardian Ad Litem:

          Dan S. Wilde, Deputy State Public Defender and Aaron S. Hockman, Chief Trial and Appellate Counsel, Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem Program.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          BURKE, Chief Justice.

         [¶1] In this case of alleged child neglect, Mother, CY, and the State of Wyoming stipulated to the entry of a Consent Decree. The decree provided that it would be in effect for six months and that it "shall expire" and that the action would be deemed dismissed "if no further action is taken in this matter." After the decree had been in effect for six months and the State had not taken any additional action, Mother filed a motion to dismiss. The juvenile court denied the motion and extended the decree for an additional six months. Mother challenges that decision in this appeal. The State contends that this matter is moot because Mother's children were returned to her after this appeal was filed and the underlying juvenile case has been closed. We conclude that an exception to the mootness doctrine applies, and that the terms of the Consent Decree required dismissal of the neglect action because the State failed to assert non-compliance with the decree within the time period provided in the decree. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the juvenile court denying Mother's motion to dismiss.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] The issues for our consideration are:

1. Should this appeal be dismissed because it is moot?
2. Did the juvenile court have authority to extend the Consent Decree after six months had elapsed and the State had taken no action alleging that Mother had failed to ...

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