Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision that illustrates this point. Specifically, in Winkowski v. Winkowski, __ N.W.2d ___ (Minn. Apr. 26, 2023), the district court had issued a harassment restraining order (HRO) against J. Winkowski prohibiting him from having contact with his ex-wife for six months. He appealed, arguing that the HRO was improper because the district court had misinterpreted the relevant statute. The Court of Appeals affirmed and the Supreme Court granted review.
But rather than addressing the interpretation of the statute, the Supreme Court held it could not reach the issue because the 6 month HRO had expired by the time the case reached the Supreme Court. The case was now moot. Although there are exceptions to the mootness doctrine, the Supreme Court held the parties had failed to establish that any of them applied. Therefore, the time and effort that the parties had spent arguing the case to the Court of Appeals and petitioning for review by the Supreme Court was rendered for naught. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and the interpretation of the statute remains unresolved.
The case serves as a reminder to carefully consider whether appropriate relief can realistically be obtained on appeal before deciding to proceed. If you would like to discuss whether an appeal is advisable in your case, please contact Lommen Abdo’s appellate attorneys Michelle Kuhl and Kay Hunt.