I reported on Felzak v. Hruby, a grandparent visitation case out of the Second District Appellate Court, in December 2006. Then, the important point concerned waiver on appeal of a due process argument. Here is the original post on the case.
Now, on appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the pertinent issue for appellate practitioners is mootness. Ralph and Sondra were held in contempt for disobeying an order permitting grandparent visitation. They wanted to purge the contempt order. While the appeal was pending, Katie, Ralph and Sondra’s daughter, turned 18 years old.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that “Because Ralph and Sondra can no longer compel Katie to visit Geraldine [grandmother], the rationale for the civil contempt order in this case has been lost. When a situation such as this occurs, the appropriate disposition of the case, and the action we take here, is to vacate the judgments of the lower courts and remand the cause with instructions to dismiss … (‘As a requirement of due process, then, a civil contempt order will be vacated once it is evident that the sanction imposed is no longer fulfilling its original, coercive function’). Vacating the contempt judgments below leaves nothing before us with respect to the contempt order to review. Those issues raised in the contempt proceedings are necessarily moot.”