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2008-UP-281 - State v. Wright

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

James H. Wright A.K.A. James Muhammad, Appellant.


Appeal From Aiken County
 Doyet A. Early, III, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-281
Submitted May 1, 2008 – Filed June 2, 2008   


APPEAL DISMISSED


Appellate Defender Eleanor Duffy Cleary, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Solicitor Barbara R. Morgan, of Aiken, Monique Danielle Montgomery, of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: The lower court found by clear and convincing evidence that James Wright, A.K.A. James Muhammad, (Wright) was mentally ill.  Wright appeals, we dismiss this appeal.  

FACTS

Wright was found not guilty by reason of insanity of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.  Wright was committed to the Department of Mental Health (the Department).  Wright was conditionally discharged from the Department in July 1999 and readmitted in June 2004.  Wright was again conditionally discharged in April 2005 and readmitted in November 2005 as a result of noncompliance with prior discharge orders. 

A hearing was held to determine whether Wright should remain hospitalized or be conditionally discharged.  The lower court found by clear and convincing evidence that Wright was mentally ill and ordered him to remain committed for treatment.  Wright argues the lower court’s decision is in error.                       

LAW/ANALYSIS

The maximum length of supervision or confinement for an individual found not guilty by reason of insanity is limited to the maximum sentence the individual could have received for the charged offense.  S.C. Code Ann. § 17-24-50 (1976).  In the present case, Wright was found guilty of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature on June 17, 1997.  The maximum sentence Wright could have received for this offense was ten years.  Thus, the last day on which Wright could have been subjected to commitment was June 17, 2007.  Id.  Wright was released from inpatient hospitalization on October 30, 2006.  (Appellant’s Br. at 4 and Resp’t’s brief at 5)

“A moot case exists where a judgment rendered by the court will have no practical legal effect upon an existing controversy because an intervening event renders any grant of effectual relief impossible for the reviewing court.”  Sloan v. Friends of Hunley, Inc., 369 S.C. 20, 26, 630 S.E.2d 474, 477 (2006). The passage of time has made the issue presented on appeal moot because pursuant to section 17-24-50, the last day on which Wright could have been hospitalized was June 17, 2007.  Appellate courts do not adjudicate moot questions.  Nolas Trading Co., Inc. v. S.C. Dep’t of Health & Envtl. Control, 289 S.C. 345, 347, 345 S.E.2d 507, 508 (Ct. App. 1986) (“The function of appellate courts is not to give opinions on abstract questions, but to decide actual controversies injuriously affecting the rights of some party to the litigation; accordingly, issues which have become moot are not a proper subject of review.”). 

APPEAL DISMISSED.[1]

WILLIAMS, THOMAS, and, PIEPER, JJ., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral arguments pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.