Moot Question: Jurisdiction: Appeal and
Error. Mootness does not prevent appellate
jurisdiction. But, because mootness is a justifiability
doctrine that operates to prevent courts from exercising
jurisdiction, an appellate court reviews mootness
determinations under the same standard of review as other
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory
interpretation is a question of law, which an appellate court
resolves independently of the trial court.
Jurisdiction. An actual case or controversy
is necessary for the exercise of judicial power.
Moot Question: Words and Phrases. A case
becomes moot when the issues initially presented in the
litigation cease to exist, when the litigants lack a legally
cognizable interest in the outcome of litigation, or when the
litigants seek to determine a question which does not rest
upon existing facts or rights, in which the issues presented
are no longer alive.
Judgments: Time. Once a protection order has
expired, the respondent is no longer affected by it.
Moot Question: Appeal and Error. Under
certain circumstances, an appellate court may entertain the
issues presented by a moot case when the claims presented
involve a matter of great public interest or when other
rights or liabilities may be affected by the case's
Moot Question: Words and Phrases. In
determining whether the public interest exception should be
invoked, the court considers the public or private nature of
the question presented, the desirability of an authoritative
adjudication for future guidance of public officials, and the
likelihood of future recurrence of the same or a similar
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory
language is to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, and
an appellate court will not resort to [301 Neb. 427]
interpretation to ascertain the meaning of statutory words
that are plain, direct, and unambiguous.
Statutes: Legislature: Intent. The court, in
discerning the meaning of a statute, should determine and
give effect to the purpose and intent of the Legislature as
ascertained from the entire language of the statute
considered in its plain, ordinary, and popular sense.
Statutes: Words and Phrases. The meaning of
"appear" in the context of Neb. Rev. Stat. §
28-311.09(8)(b) (Reissue 2016) includes both personal
appearances by the respondent and appearances through
from the District Court for Douglas County: John E. Huber,
County Judge. Appeal dismissed.
J. Vogt, of Sherrets, Bruno & Vogt, L.L.C., for
William H. Selde, of Fitzgerald, Schorr, Barmettler &
Brennan, P.C., L.L.O., for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik,
and Freudenberg, JJ.
Cochran appeals the issuance of a harassment protection order
and denial of a motion to vacate the ex parte harassment
protection order against him. During a show cause hearing,
the district court stated that because Cochran appeared
through counsel rather than appearing in person, the ex parte
harassment protection order would be automatically extended
for 1 year. However, the court proceeded to allow the
petitioner, Michelle Weatherly, to testify and allowed
Cochran's counsel to cross-examine Weatherly. After the
hearing, the district court found that Weatherly had
presented evidence sufficient to extend the harassment
protection order for 1 year, to expire on October 5, 2018.
The central issues raised on appeal are (1) whether Weatherly
was entitled to a harassment protection order under the terms
of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-311.09 [301 Neb. 428] (Reissue
2016) and (2) whether a respondent against whom a harassment
protection order is sought must appear in person rather than
through counsel. We find that the appeal is moot, but apply
the public interest exception to mootness to address the
and Cochran were involved as partners in a roofing contractor
business. Weatherly and Cochran worked together in a building
owned by Cochran and leased to the business.
2017, Cochran gave notice of his intent to resign his
position at the roofing contractor business. Believing that
Cochran would potentially depart negatively, Weatherly had an
off-duty officer present for the removal of his belongings on
his final day of employment.
Cochran arrived at the office to remove his belongings, he
met with Weatherly in her office. During this meeting,
Cochran allegedly made threatening statements. Specifically,
Cochran purportedly stated, '"Do you recall what
happened to . . . Roofing? It's rumored that that was a
business deal gone bad and that person was murdered because
of that. I hope that doesn't happen to us.'"
Although Weatherly noted that the environment was hostile
throughout the rest of the day, Weatherly continued to talk
after Cochran left the building, the off-duty officer
suggested that Weatherly should go into Cochran's office
to retrieve company documents and property before the
locksmiths came to change the locks for the building. Upon
entering Cochran's office, Weatherly and the officer
found a handgun in Cochran's desk drawer. Weatherly
subsequently told the off-duty officer that Cochran was a
convicted felon, and the officer took possession of the
weapon to ensure that an on-duty officer could seize it.
Weatherly was waiting for the arrival of the on-duty officer,
Cochran returned and attempted to enter the building. [301
Neb. 429] When Cochran was stopped from entering the building
by the off-duty officer, Weatherly alleged that Cochran made
"a threatening gesture" that she interpreted to
insinuate that she was '"going to get it.'"
The actual gesture was not further described in the record.
August 2, 2017, Weatherly filled out the application for the
protection order. However, the application was not filed with
the court until October 5. An ex parte harassment protection
order was granted in favor of Weatherly, and a ...