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Couey v. Brown

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-10-2013
Case #: A148473
Schuman, P.J. for the Court; Wolheim, J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148473.pdf

Civil Procedure: The Court may find that a dispute is moot when the facts upon which the dispute rests are more contingent and hypothetical than imminent and certain.

Couey appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment.  Couey was employed as a circulator whose job was to obtain signatures for two petitions. During the same time frame, Couey was circulating petitions for another ballot as a volunteer. Under ORS 250.048(9), a person is prohibited from obtaining signatures on a petition as a volunteer while they are being paid as a petition circulator.  Couey sought to enjoin the Secretary of State (State) from enforcing the statute. The lower court granted the State's motion for summary judgment because by the time the case had reached the trial court, the period during which the signatures needed to be obtained, had already elapsed, which rendered the case moot. Couey appealed. Couey added that even if the case was moot it was subject to an exception because  the challenge was “capable of repetition” and “likely to evade judicial review in the future”. The Court held that Couey's challenge was moot because the circumstances surrounding his challenge were hypothetical and contingent rather than imminent and certain. The Court concluded that the case became moot once the circulating petitions ceased. Further, this case did not qualify for the mootness exception because the Court could not determine that such a case was likely to avoid judicial review. Affirmed.