BARAJAS, Chief Judge.
This is an appeal from a summary judgment in favor of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, Appellee, on its claim that William F. Olson, Appellant,
Prior to submission of this appeal, Appellant's wife, Johanna T. Olson, filed with the Court a suggestion of death, a motion to substitute her as the appellant, and a motion to proceed with the appeal pursuant to Tex. R.App.P. 9(a). On March 30, 1994, the Court granted those motions. At oral argument, the Court raised the question of whether Appellant's death, subsequent to the rendition of final judgment in the trial court and perfection of appeal, rendered this appeal moot. The Court permitted both parties to file supplemental briefs in response to the question. Appellant filed a letter brief in which he contends that the appeal is not moot; alternatively, he contends that the underlying judgment must be vacated and the cause dismissed if we find the appeal moot. The Court received no response from the Commission on Lawyer Discipline.
Neither the Texas Constitution nor our State Legislature has vested this Court with the authority to render advisory opinions. See Tex. Const. art. II, § 1; Camarena v. Texas Employment Comm'n, 754 S.W.2d 149, 151 (Tex.1988); Brown v. KPMG Peat Marwick, 856 S.W.2d 742, 751 (Tex. App.—El Paso 1993, writ denied); Hanna v. Godwin, 876 S.W.2d 454, 457 (Tex.App.—El Paso 1994, no writ). The mootness doctrine limits courts to deciding cases in which an actual controversy exists. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Nueces County, 886 S.W.2d 766, 767 (Tex.1994) Camarena v. Texas Employment Comm'n, 754 S.W.2d at 151; Hanna v. Godwin, 876 S.W.2d at 457. When there has ceased to be a controversy between the litigating parties due to events occurring after judgment has been rendered by the trial court, the decision of an appellate court would be a mere academic exercise and the court may not decide the appeal. See Hanna v. Godwin, 876 S.W.2d at 457; Brown v. KPMG Peat Marwick, 856 S.W.2d at 751. Stated another way, if a judgment cannot have a practical effect on an existing controversy, the case is moot. Brownsville Indep. School Dist. Board of Trustees v. Brownsville Herald, 831 S.W.2d 537, 539 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 1992, no writ). Two exceptions to the mootness doctrine currently exist: (1) the "capable of repetition exception" and (2) the "collateral consequences exception." See General Land Office v. OXY U.S.A., Inc., 789 S.W.2d 569, 571 (Tex.1990); University Interscholastic League v. Buchanan, 848 S.W.2d 298, 304 (Tex.App.— Austin 1993, no writ).
We turn our attention first to the question of whether there is an actual controversy between the parties. The sole controversy in this case concerned whether Appellant had engaged in professional misconduct and, if he had, the appropriate disciplinary measures which should be taken against him. The sanction assessed for Appellant's professional misconduct was both an active and probated suspension of his law license. Given this posture, it would be an exercise in futility to hear the merits of this appeal. If we reverse and remand the cause for a new trial, the Commission on Lawyer Discipline could not proceed with the disciplinary matter since Appellant's license to practice law, which was personal to him, terminated upon his death. See 7 Tex.Jur.3d Attorney at Law § 11 (1980). For the same reason, the judgment, if affirmed, could no longer operate against Appellant. Consequently, our judgment cannot have a practical effect on an existing controversy.
Nevertheless, Appellant contends that we should not find this appeal moot for several reasons. Citing County of El Paso v. Ortega, 847 S.W.2d 436 (Tex.App.—El Paso 1993, no writ), Appellant first contends the issue of mootness is waived because it was never raised by the Commission on Lawyer Discipline. We disagree. We held in County of El Paso v. Ortega that the issue of the appellees' lack of standing to bring the declaratory judgment suit was waived because it was not raised in the trial court. County of El Paso, 847 S.W.2d at 441, n. 8. However, the issue of whether a party had standing to bring suit in the first place is distinct from the issue presented in this case, that is, whether this appeal has been made moot by Appellant's death. Thus, Appellant's reliance on County of El Paso v. Ortega is misplaced. Appellant has not cited and we are unaware of any authority which precludes this Court from sua sponte raising the question of the appeal's mootness or from reconsidering our ruling on Appellant's motion to proceed with the appeal under Rule 9(a). To the contrary, because this is a question affecting our jurisdiction, we have a duty to decide it regardless of whether it was raised by the parties or on our own motion. See Speer v. Presbyterian Children's Home and Service Agency, 847 S.W.2d 227, 229 (Tex.1993) (appellate court's duty to dismiss moot cases arises from a proper respect for the judicial branch's unique constitutional role to decide contested cases; court has no jurisdiction to render an advisory opinion); Fandey v. Lee, 876 S.W.2d 458, 459 (Tex. App.—El Paso 1994, no writ) (because jurisdiction is fundamental, appellate court must determine, sua sponte, whether it has jurisdiction to consider appeal).
Appellant initially relied upon Tex. R.App.P. 9(a) in arguing that the merits of this appeal should be heard. However, nothing on the face of Rule 9(a) dispenses with the requirement that there be an actual existing controversy between the litigants. That rule provides:
Further, Rule 9(a) and its predecessor, Rule 369a of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure,
This brings us to Appellant's second argument. He contends that the judgment of the trial court, because it awarded damages to the Commission on Lawyer Discipline, will affect the property rights of the parties. The portion of the judgment referred to reads as follows:
Except for this probationary condition, the judgment made no other provision with regard to reimbursement of these costs.
The trial court is responsible for assessing the appropriate sanction or sanctions to be imposed if an attorney is found to have committed professional misconduct. Tex.R.Disciplinary P. (1992) 3.10, reprinted in Tex.Gov't Code Ann., tit. 2, subtit. G app. A-1 (Vernon Supp.1994). The term "sanction" includes the payment of reasonable attorneys' fees and all direct expenses associated
Appellant cites no authority for his claim that this award may be enforced against his estate. Because the judgment does not require Olson to reimburse the State Bar for these costs except as a condition of a probationary period which will never be served, we find that this portion of the judgment did not survive Appellant's death. Accordingly, it is not a claim which may be enforced against his estate. See Tex.Prob. Code Ann. § 3(c) (Vernon Supp.1995) (claims include liabilities of a decedent which survive). We find no merit in Appellant's argument that the court's judgment and this appeal will affect the property rights of the parties.
Having determined that there is no actual existing controversy between the litigants and that the judgment will not affect the property rights of the parties, we conclude that this appeal is moot. Consequently, we also find that the Court improvidently granted Appellant's motion to proceed with the appeal and substitute parties pursuant to Rule 9(a), and we vacate our order of March 30, 1994 granting those motions. As correctly observed by Appellant, we are required to set aside the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the underlying cause of action, not merely the appeal. Speer v. Presbyterian Children's Home and Service Agency, 847 S.W.2d at 229; Hanna v. Godwin, 876 S.W.2d at 458; Brown v. KPMG Peat Marwick, 856 S.W.2d at 751. Accordingly, without reference to the merits, we set aside the judgment of the trial court, and dismiss this appeal as moot.
KOEHLER, J., not participating.