Thursday, March 22, 2007

Department of Human Resources, Child Care Administration v. Roth (Ct. of Appeals)

Filed: (undated in the original, but posted March 22, 2007) Opinion by Chief Judge Robert M. Bell.

From the official headnote:
"A case is moot when there is no longer any existing controversy between the parties at the time that the case is before the court, or when the court can no longer fashion an effective remedy." In re Kaela C., 394 Md. 432, 452, 906 A.2d 915, 927 (2006). In October 2001, the relevant portions of the Code of Maryland Regulations and were amended, changing the language from the "Office of Child Care Licensing and Regulation" to the "Child Care Administration." Thus, there was no longer any existing controversy between the parties.
This matter arose out of the revocation of a registered family day care facility license held by the respondent ("Roth") by the appellant ("CCA"), following an investigation that found Roth had hit and inappropriately supervised children in her care. The revocation was upheld by an administrative judge, but overturned by the Circuit Court for Harford County, on the basis that CCA had no authority to revoke family day care licenses, that authority having been entrusted by regulation to the Office of Child Care Licensing and Regulation ("OCCLR"). The judge noted that some, but not all, references to OCCLR in the regulations had previously been changed from OCCLR to CCA. CCA timely appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, and the Court of Appeals issued a writ of certiorari prior to consideration by that court.

The court found this case to be moot, since the regulations in question had since been amended to clarify that CCA, rather than its former incarnation, OCCLR, was empowered to regulate family day care licensing. Further, Roth was no longer operating a family day care facility. However, the court did VACATE the decision below and REMAND the matter to the trial court with instructions to affirm the decision of the Department of Human Resources.

The opinion is available in PDF format.

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