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Declaratory Judgment - Mootness

Talladega County Commission v. State of Alabama, ex rel City of Lincoln, [Ms. 1180395, Feb. 21, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Wise and Sellers, JJ., concur) dismisses the Talladega County Commission’s appeal from an order of the Talladega Circuit Court dismissing a mandamus proceeding filed against the Commission by the City of Lincoln and directed the circuit court to vacate a declaratory judgment entered in the action.

When the legislative delegation withdrew its approval for the Commission to disburse funds from a special tax fund to the City, the City moved to dismiss its mandamus proceeding seeking to compel the Commission to disburse those funds. Ms. *7. The trial court granted the City’s motion to dismiss but expressly ordered that its declaratory judgment construing the local act at issue would remain in effect. Ibid.

The Court dismissed the Commission’s appeal and directed the trial court to vacate the declaratory judgment. “Once the State representatives withdrew their approval, a necessary precursor to the disbursement of moneys from the fund under the amended Act, the City was no longer entitled to the funds and there ceased to be a controversy between the City and the Commission. Whether the City and the Commission continue to disagree about how the amended Act should be interpreted in the future is irrelevant, because ‘[t]he Declaratory Judgment Act does not ... empower courts to decide moot questions, abstract propositions, or to give advisory opinions, however convenient it might be to have these questions decided for the government of future cases.’” Ms. *12, quoting Stamps v. Jefferson Cty. Bd. of Educ., 642 So. 2d 941, 944 (Ala. 1994) (some internal quotation marks omitted).

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