may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1994).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
In the Matter of the Welfare of:
Filed October 22, 1996
Winona County District Court
File No. JX-95-50818
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Marie L. Wolf, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue S.E., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Appellant J.J.F.)
Considered and decided by Davies, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Peterson, Judge.
Appellant J.J.F., a juvenile, was charged by petition with 19 counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first and second degrees. Appellant entered an admission to eight counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and the state dismissed the remaining counts.
Following a disposition hearing, the trial court adjudicated appellant delinquent and stayed his placement in a sexual offender treatment program on the condition that he continue residency in The Main House in Winona and obtain sexual offender treatment. The court also notified appellant of his duty to register as a sexual offender pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 2 (1994), but did not order him to do so.
Appellant thereafter moved to modify the disposition order by eliminating the language notifying him that he register as a sex offender. He argued that the registration requirement is punitive and inconsistent with the purposes of juvenile law. He further argued that imposition of the mandatory registration requirement violated his constitutionally protected due process rights because he was not given the protections of adult court.
The trial court denied appellant's motion, concluding that "[t]o make a ruling on the merits * * * would * * * be inappropriate as premature and gratuitous." This appeal followed. Because we conclude that the trial court in this circumstance should have addressed the constitutional issue, we remand with directions.
Courts will not decide moot questions or render advisory opinions. In re Inspection of Minn. Auto Specialties, Inc., 346 N.W.2d 657, 658 (Minn. 1984); Izaak Walton League of Am. Endowment, Inc. v. State, 312 Minn. 587, 589, 252 N.W.2d 852, 854 (1977). The controversy in this case, however, is not moot, premature, or academic. Appellant should be able to challenge the registration requirement at this "notification" stage and should not be required to commit a crime before this issue ripens. Cf. Murphy v. Wood, 545 N.W.2d 52, 53 (Minn. App. 1996) (adult prisoner, who was informed of duty to register as predatory offender under Minn. Stat. § 243.166, subd. 1, filed declaratory judgment action challenging constitutionality of that statute). And while appellant has since registered, that fact should not preclude him from challenging the registration requirement. Cf. In re D.M.C., 331 N.W.2d 236, 237 (Minn. 1983) (although patient's voluntary commitment made medical records available, question of access to records was capable of repetition).
We therefore remand this case to the trial court with directions to address appellant's challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We further direct the court to treat this matter as if it were a declaratory judgment action, allowing the parties to be represented by the same attorneys.