What Is the Mootness Doctrine ?
Ordinarily we will not adjudicate issues when the underlying case is moot. See Burkett v. Schwendiman, 773 P.2d 42, 44 (Utah 1989).
"A case is deemed moot when the requested judicial relief cannot affect the rights of the litigants." Id. (citing Jones v. Schwendiman, 721 P.2d 893, 894 (Utah 1986); Black v. Alpha Fin. Corp., 656 P.2d 409, 410-11 (Utah 1982)).
On occasion, however, we will consider a technically moot issue if it falls within the "public interest exception" to the mootness doctrine.
See Burkett, 773 P.2d at 44; McRae v. Jackson, 526 P.2d 1190, 1191 (Utah 1974); 5 Am. Jur. 2d, Appellate Review 648 (1995); 1A C.J.S. Actions 41 (1985); 13A Charles A. Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure 3533.9, at 392 (1984); cf. 15 James Wm. Moore, Moore's Federal Practice 101.993, at 101-194.6 (Matthew Bender, 3d ed. 2000)
The public interest exception to the mootness doctrine arises "when the case presents an issue that affects the public interest, is likely to recur, and because of the brief time that any one litigant is affected, is capable of evading, review." Burkett, 773 P.2d at 44 (citing Wickham v. Fisher, 629 P.2d 896, 899-900 (Utah 1981); State v. Davis, 721 P.2d 894, 895 (Utah 1986); Kehl v. Schwendiman, 735 P.2d 413, 415 (Utah Ct. App. 1987));
see also 5 Am. Jur. 2d, supra P 25, 648. Because mootness is a matter of judicial policy, the ultimate determination of whether to address an issue that is technically moot rests in the discretion of this court. See 1A C.J.S., supra P 25, 40 ("Mootness is not solely a jurisdictional doctrine, but is founded in part on policy considerations . . . the question of mootness is one of convenience and judicial discretion.")