Mootness Doesn’t Dissuade Court from Sharing Opinion on Eligibility Case

Oct 9, 2009

A Kentucky state appeals court, while hamstrung by the legal concept of mootness, has nonetheless rendered an opinion that guts a trial court’s finding that allowed a high school student athlete to remain eligible, even though Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) policy dictated that he sit out a year.
A initial decision was made by the KHSAA Board of Control that student athlete Jeffrey Dailey should be ineligible after he transferred from one school to another, pursuant to its bylaws..
Dailey appealed the determination to the Montgomery Circuit Court, which issued the October 1, 2007 judgment reinstating Dailey’s eligibility.
The KHSAA presented four arguments on appeal:
• the KHSAA’s final order was supported by substantial evidence and therefore the circuit court incorrectly reversed KHSAA’s determination on eligibility;
• the circuit court failed to allow joinder of a necessary and indispensable party, i.e., the Montgomery County Board of Education;
• the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to consider the administrative appeal as Dailey had failed to strictly comply with the appeal requirements of KRS 13B.140(1); and
• the circuit judge should have recused herself.
The appeals court noted that “while the KHSAA does put forth persuasive arguments, (it) is without jurisdiction to entertain the argument, as the issues before us are now moot.
“The issue of mootness goes to the jurisdiction of the court and may be raised sua sponte. As judicial power may constitutionally extend only to justiciable controversaries, an appellate court is generally without jurisdiction to reach the merits of a moot appeal. This is regarded as the prohibition against advisory opinions. See Kentucky High School Athletics Association v. Runyon, 920 S .W.2d 525 (Ky.1996); Kentucky High School Athletic Association v. Davis, 77 S.W.3d 596 (Ky.App.2002); Philpot v. Patton, 837 S.W .2d 491 (Ky.1992); Commonwealth v. Hughes, 873 S.W.2d 828 (Ky.1994).
“At the time of the circuit court order, Dailey had commenced his senior year of high school. He has presumably graduated or, at the least, the time of ineligibility has expired given the one year limitation. Thus, there is no longer a ‘live’ controversy for us to adjudicate. Therefore, we decline to address the merits of KHSAA’s arguments and instead must dismiss the appeal.”
Kentucky High School Athletic Association v. Dailey; Ct. App. Ky.; No. 2007-CA-002100-MR.; 7/10/09
The opinion is also available here:
Attorneys of record (for appellant) Phillip D. Scott, Theodore R. Martin, Lexington, KY,


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