James D. Bramble, appellee,
Lori A. Bramble, appellant.
1. Judgments: Justiciable
Issues. Justiciability issues that do not involve a
factual dispute present a question of law.
Moot Question: Jurisdiction: Appeal and
Error. Although mootness does not prevent appellate
jurisdiction, it is a justiciability doctrine that can
prevent courts from exercising jurisdiction.
Justiciable Issues. A justiciable issue
requires a present, substantial controversy between parties
having adverse legal interests susceptible to immediate
resolution and capable of present judicial enforcement.
Moot Question. Mootness refers to events
occurring after the filing of a suit which eradicate the
requisite personal interest in the resolution of the dispute
that existed at the beginning of the litigation.
Moot Question: Words and Phrases. A moot
case is one which seeks to determine a question that no
longer rests upon existing facts or rights-i.e., a case in
which the issues presented are no longer alive.
Moot Question. As a general rule, a moot
case is subject to summary dismissal.
Contempt: Moot Question: Appeal and Error.
An appeal challenging a finding of civil contempt is rendered
moot once the contemnor voluntarily purges the contempt.
Contempt: Appeal and Error. In a civil
contempt proceeding, the contemnor has a choice once he or
she is found to be in willful contempt of court and a
sanction and purge plan is put in place: The contemnor can
either seek a stay of the sanction pending an appeal or
comply with the purge plan and thereby purge the finding of
contempt and end the matter.
Moot Question: Appeal and Error. An
appellate court may choose to review an otherwise moot case
under the public interest exception if it [303 Neb. 381]
involves a matter affecting the public interest or when other
rights or liabilities may be affected by its determination.
Moot Question: Words and Phrases. The public
interest exception to the mootness doctrine requires
consideration of 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 problem.
Moot Question: Appeal and Error. Application
of the public interest exception is inappropriate where the
issues presented on appeal do not inherently evade appellate
from the District Court for Douglas County: W. Russell Bowie
III, Judge. Appeal dismissed.
(Dooley) Jolly and Travis M. Jacott, of Adams & Sullivan,
P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.
Elizabeth Stuht Borchers and Steven J. Riekes, of Marks,
Clare & Richards, L.L.C., for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik,
and Freudenberg, JJ.
appeal stems from civil contempt proceedings in a dissolution
action. The primary question presented is whether a
contemnor's full compliance with a purge plan renders
moot a subsequent appeal of the finding of contempt. We
conclude it does, and we dismiss the appeal.
January 2016, after a trial, the district court for Douglas
County entered a decree dissolving the marriage of James D.
Bramble and Lori A. Bramble. Both parties moved to alter or
amend the decree, and the court thereafter entered an amended
decree on February 22, 2016.
relevant to the issues on appeal, the amended decree awarded
the parties joint legal custody of their two minor [303 Neb.
382] children, and Lori was awarded primary physical custody.
Regarding the marital home, the amended decree provided:
The real estate is awarded to [James] as is. The parties have
stipulated that the value of the house is $169, 000. There is
$47, 500 of marital equity. [James] shall refinance the house
within 60 days of the entry of the Amended Decree to remove
[Lori]'s name from the mortgage, and pay [Lori] her share
of the equity of $23, 750.00. [Lori] shall have until
February 29, 2016, to vacate the residence. [Lori] shall
leave the house in good condition, and not remove any
fixtures or major appliances (except that [Lori] may remove
either the clothes washer or the clothes dryer), on her
departure. [James] has been paying the mortgage and all
expenses since moving out of the marital home, and shall
continue to do so until after he takes possession.
[Lori] shall execute a Quitclaim Deed to [James] releasing
her interest in the marital residence, whether said interest
is marital, legal, equitable, contractual or otherwise, to be
held by her attorney, who shall release the deed to the title
company or lending institution to be held in escrow pending
the refinancing and payment of the marital equity.
March 14, 2016, James filed an application for an order to
show cause. As relevant to this appeal, James alleged Lori
improperly removed several fixtures and items of personal
property from the residence. A show cause order was issued,
and Lori entered a voluntary appearance.
continuance to permit mediation, the contempt application was
taken up on October 24, 2016, with both parties represented
by counsel. Evidence was adduced, and the matter was
continued to January 10, 2017, so additional evidence could
be offered. On January 13, the court entered an order [303
Neb. 383] finding that Lori had willfully violated the
provisions of the amended decree in the following respects:
[U]pon her departure, [Lori] removed both the clothes washer
and dryer, and replaced the dryer with another unit. Further
[Lori] admits to removing the ceiling fans, the dishwasher,
range, refrigerator and microwave upon her departure, a
direct violation of the Amended Decree, and [Lori] is in
[willful] contumacious contempt of this provision.
January 13 order established a purge plan, but did not impose
a sanction for the contempt. The pertinent portions of the
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that [Lori] is in [willful] contempt
of court for violation [of] paragraph 9(f) of the Amended
Decree, and shall appear in Douglas County District Court
#504 ... on Monday, March 13, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. for
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that [Lori] may purge herself of
contempt by paying the sum of $3, 573.00 to [James] no later
than March 10, 2017.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that [Lori] shall pay to the Clerk of
the District Court of Douglas County, Nebraska, the sum of
$1, 500.00 as an . . . attorney's fee for [James']
attorney, no later than March 10, 2017.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall inform the court
by the close of business March 10, 2017, whether the
sentencing hearing is necessary so that the Douglas County