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¶ 14 Mootness is a threshold issue which must be resolved before addressing the underlying dispute. Med. Marijuana Growers Ass'n v. Corrigan, 2012 MT 146, ¶ 18, 365 Mont. 346, 281 P.3d 210 (citing Povsha v. City of Billings, 2007 MT 353, ¶ 19, 340 Mont. 346, 174 P.3d 515). The mootness doctrine is one of several doctrines designed to limit the judicial power of this Court to justiciable controversies—that is, controversies "upon which a court's judgment will effectively operate, as distinguished from . . . dispute[s] invoking a purely political, administrative, philosophical, or academic conclusion." Progressive Direct Ins. Co. v. Stuivenga, 2012 MT 75, ¶ 16, 364 Mont. 390, 276 P.3d 867. The fundamental question to be answered in any review of possible mootness is "whether it is possible to grant some form of effective relief to the appellant." Stuivenga, ¶ 37.
¶ 15 MPERB claims that it is impossible to grant effective relief to Erene because, once the payments commenced, MPERB had fully discharged its obligations under the law. MPERB cites § 19-2-803, MCA, in support of its position.
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¶ 18 When denying Erene's initial claim for benefits in 2008, MPERA did not inform her of her right to challenge the denial by appeal to MPERB. Under Admin. R. M. 2.43.1501(2) (2003), Erene had the right to appeal MPERA's decision to MPERB. MPERA, in two separate letters to Erene dated May 30, 2008, (1) stated that MPERA was "require[d]" to honor the 2006 change of beneficiaries, and (2) informed Erene that she "must complete, have notarized and return to this office" the claim forms for the children before being provided with the payment options that were available. It gave no indication that further review was available by appeal to MPERB under Admin. R. M. 2.43.1501(2) at that time. As a matter of due process, MPERA was obligated to inform Erene of any right to appeal and the procedures for seeking such appeal. See Pickens v. Shelton-Thompson, 2000 MT 131, ¶ 13, ¶ 15, 300 Mont. 16, 3 P.3d 603 (citing Mont. Const. art. II, § 17; Dorwart v. Caraway, 1998 MT 191, ¶ 76, 290 Mont. 196, 966 P.2d 1121).
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(1) At the time of issuance, this Court shall assign to all opinions and to those orders designated by this Court for publication (hereinafter referred to as substantive orders), a citation which shall include the calendar year in which the opinion or substantive order is issued followed by the Montana U.S. Postal Code (MT) followed by a consecutive number beginning each year with "1" (for example, 1998 MT 1). This citation shall be known as the public domain or neutral-format citation and shall appear on the title page of each opinion and on the first page of each substantive order issued by this Court. State Reporter Publishing Company and West Group are requested to publish this public domain, neutral-format citation within the heading of each opinion or substantive order published by those companies.
(2) Beginning with the first paragraph of text, each paragraph in every such opinion and substantive order shall be numbered consecutively beginning with a ¶ symbol followed by an Arabic numeral, flush with the left margin, opposite the first word of the paragraph. Paragraph numbers shall continue consecutively throughout the text of the majority opinion or substantive order and any concurring or dissenting opinions or rationale. Paragraphs within footnotes shall not be numbered nor shall markers, captions, headings or Roman numerals which merely divide opinions or sections thereof. Block-indented single-spaced portions of a paragraph shall not be numbered as a separate paragraph. State Reporter Publishing Company and West Group are requested to publish these paragraph numbers in each opinion or substantive order published by those companies.
(3) In the case of opinions which are not to be cited as precedent (variously referred to as unpublished, "noncite," or memorandum opinions) and in the case of all substantive orders (unless otherwise specifically designated by this Court), the consecutive number in the public domain or neutral-format citation shall be followed by the letter "N" to indicate that the opinion or substantive order is not to be cited as precedent in any brief, motion or document filed with this Court or elsewhere (for example, 1998 MT 1N). Any "N" citation, nevertheless, shall be listed along with the result, case title and Supreme Court cause number in the quarterly table of noncitable cases issued by this Court and published by State Reporter Publishing Company and West Group.
(4) In the case of opinions or substantive orders which are withdrawn or vacated by a subsequent order of this Court, the public domain, neutral-format citation of the withdrawing or vacating order shall be the same as the original public domain, neutral-format citation but followed by a letter "W" (for example, 1998 MT 1W). An opinion or substantive order issued in place of one withdrawn or vacated shall be assigned the next consecutive number appropriate to the date on which it is issued.
(5) In the case of opinions or substantive orders which are amended by a subsequent order of this Court, the public domain, neutral-format citation of the amending order shall be the same as the original public domain, neutral-format citation but followed by a letter "A" (for example, 1998 MT 1A). Amended paragraphs shall contain the same number as the paragraph being amended. Additional paragraphs shall contain the same number as the immediately preceding original paragraph but with the addition of a lower case letter (for example, if two new paragraphs are added following paragraph 13 of the original opinion, the new paragraphs will be numbered ¶ 13a and ¶ 13b). If a paragraph is deleted, the number of the deleted paragraph shall be skipped in the sequence of paragraph numbering in any subsequently published version of the amended opinion or substantive order, provided that at the point where the paragraph was deleted, there shall be a note indicating the deletion of that paragraph.
(6)The following are examples of citations to Montana Supreme Court opinions:
For cases decided before January 1, 1998:
Primary cite: Roe v. Doe (1997), 284 Mont. 301, 989 P.2d 472.
Primary cite with pinpoint cite: Roe v. Doe (1997), 284 Mont. 301, 305, 989 P.2d 472, 475.
Pinpoint cite alone: Roe, 284 Mont. at 305, 989 P.2d at 475.
For cases decided from and after January 1, 1998:
Primary cite: Doe v. Roe, 1998 MT 12, 286 Mont. 175, 989 P.2d 1312.
Primary cite with pinpoint cite: Doe v. Roe, 1998 MT 12, ¶¶ 44-45, 286 Mont. 175, ¶¶ 44-45, 989 P.2d 1312, ¶¶ 44-45.
Pinpoint cite: Doe, ¶¶ 44-45.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the citation formats adopted herein are in addition to and supplement the current citation formats used by this Court. The Montana Reports is the official reporter of this Court's opinions and this Court will continue to cite to both its official reporter and to the regional, Pacific, reporter in addition to the public domain, neutral-format citation. This Court encourages the adoption and use of these formats in all briefs, memoranda and other documents filed in this Court.
Pursuant to its authority under Article VII, Section 2(3) of the Constitution of the State of Montana, this Court filed an order on December 16, 1997, adopting citation formats for use in its opinions, including a public domain or neutral-format citation. The Court has now determined to simplify the format set forth in that order for pinpoint citations to opinions decided after January 1, 1998, by eliminating the requirement that paragraph number(s) be repeated for all three sources cited.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that, effective immediately, proper pinpoint citations to opinions decided by this Court after January 1, 1998, shall be in the form shown in the following example:
Doe v. Roe, 1998 MT 12, ¶¶ 44-45, 286 Mont. 175, 989 P.2d 1312
In all other respects, the Court’s order filed December
16, 1997, shall remain unchanged.