Justice WILLETT delivered the opinion of the Court.
A criminal defendant's right to counsel — enshrined in both the United States
In 2006, petitioners Kerry Heckman, Monica Maisenbacher, Sylvia Peterson, and Tammy Newberry each faced misdemeanor charges in Williamson County — charges that could lead to up to a year in prison. Each claimed to be unable to afford legal representation. And each claimed that he or she had been, or soon would be, denied his or her right to court-appointed counsel.
They sought relief by initiating this lawsuit pursuant to section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. In addition to suing Williamson County, they sued its constitutional county judge,
Heckman, Maisenbacher, Peterson, and Newberry claimed that these defendants ("defendants") had deprived, conspired to deprive, and allowed others to deprive them of two constitutionally protected rights: the right to counsel and the right to self-representation. Petitioner Jessica Stempko, whose minor daughter was then facing misdemeanor charges in Williamson County, joined them in a third claim: that defendants had deprived them of their constitutionally protected right to open-court proceedings.
These five plaintiffs ("plaintiffs" or "named plaintiffs") brought these claims not just on their own behalf but for the putative class of all individuals accused of a misdemeanor crime in Williamson County who faced the possibility of confinement and could not afford legal counsel. They sought injunctive and declaratory relief "[t]o stop Defendants' unconstitutional and unfair practices."
Defendants filed a plea to the jurisdiction. First, they asserted that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to intervene in equity into pending criminal proceedings. Second, they argued that Heckman, Maisenbacher, and Peterson all lacked standing to bring their claims and that their claims were moot. They introduced undisputed evidence that since joining this suit, those three plaintiffs had each been appointed counsel and, further, that their criminal cases had concluded. Defendants also introduced undisputed evidence that a visiting judge
The trial court denied the plea to the jurisdiction. Defendants promptly filed an interlocutory appeal,
On appeal, defendants renewed their jurisdictional arguments. They also moved to dismiss and filed supplemental briefing, noting that all of plaintiffs' criminal cases had been resolved and that, beforehand, all of them had been appointed counsel. (In the case of Jessica Stempko, who did not face criminal charges, defendants asserted the same with regard to her daughter.) Finally, they asserted that a number of subsequent developments had mooted the claims of the putative class — Williamson County had revised its policies for appointing legal counsel for indigent misdemeanor defendants, and had hired additional personnel to ensure that those defendants who needed a lawyer received one.
The court of appeals held that none of the named plaintiffs ever had standing to pursue all of the purported class's claims; for this reason, the court held that none of the named plaintiffs had standing to litigate whether the putative class should be certified. The court held that, for this reason, the claims were moot, as was the suit itself.
Thereafter, we granted plaintiffs' petition for review.
II. Appellate Jurisdiction of this Court
Defendants argue that this appeal falls outside the constitutional and statutory scope of our appellate jurisdiction. Because these issues may be dispositive, we consider them first.
A. Interlocutory Appeals
Ordinarily, this Court lacks jurisdiction over an appeal from an interlocutory order.
B. "Criminal Law Matters"
We next consider whether this case falls outside the scope of our appellate jurisdiction as delineated by the Texas Constitution. Defendants assert that it does, arguing that Heckman's case amounts to a "criminal law matter." We disagree.
The jurisdiction of this Court — like that of all Texas courts — derives from Texas's Constitution and statutes.
No one rule clearly defines the content or contours of "criminal law matters." We do not write on an entirely blank slate, however. To determine whether a case is a criminal law matter, we look to the essence of the case to determine whether the issues it entails are more substantively criminal or civil.
In addition to the principles announced in our own caselaw, we find guidance in the decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
In this case, we are asked to consider the issues first raised by defendants' plea to the jurisdiction:
These are questions of justiciability — a doctrine rooted in the Separation of Powers provision
But beyond this technical analysis, a more fundamental reason supports our conclusion. The Texas Constitution — the source of the requirements of justiciability in Texas — bars our courts from rendering advisory opinions and limits access to the courts to those individuals who have suffered an actual, concrete injury.
Thus, the question raised by defendants' plea to the jurisdiction — and the constitutional and pragmatic concerns it engenders — goes to the heart of civil practice. Justiciability is a matter of concern in every civil case,
This is not to say that justiciability concerns never arise in "criminal law matters" or in cases decided by the Court of Criminal Appeals.
The question here is not simply the justiciability of an individual plaintiff's claim, but whether multiple individual named plaintiffs have a justiciable interest in obtaining the use of a procedural device unique to civil law: the class action.
This Court, by contrast, has issued numerous opinions on justiciability generally and specifically in the context of class certification. Given the importance of the subject in civil practice, litigants will no doubt continue to call on us to do so — yet another reason against declaring this a "criminal law matter" and thereby placing it beyond the scope of our appellate jurisdiction. We conclude that, by holding this to be a civil law matter, we preserve our appellate jurisdiction over a fundamental area of civil law while not encroaching on the jurisdiction of our sister court.
Defendants nevertheless contend that this is a "criminal law matter" as it arises from a criminal proceeding. Specifically, they assert that the appointment of legal counsel for indigent misdemeanor defendants is a criminal law matter; hence allegations about the constitutionality of such procedures are, themselves, necessarily "criminal law matters."
Admittedly, to answer the justiciability questions raised here, we must refer to some extent to criminal procedure law. But that fact does not render this case a criminal law matter. More than a century ago, this Court noted that "there are criminal cases which may incidentally involve a question of civil law, and civil cases in which in like manner points of criminal law call for solution."
Nor is this the first time we have considered a challenge to a lower court's jurisdiction over what may be a "criminal law matter." In the past, we held that a trial court lacked jurisdiction to issue a declaratory judgment that a penal code provision was unconstitutional or to issue an injunction against its enforcement.
For similar reasons, the fact that we can only answer the justiciability questions here by referring to criminal law cases does not deprive us of appellate jurisdiction. The matter before us deals with justiciability, and therefore falls squarely within our constitutional authority.
III. Standard and Scope of Review
Having determined this case falls within our appellate jurisdiction, we consider now the subject of the dispute: defendants' plea to the jurisdiction. A plea to the jurisdiction challenges the court's authority to decide a case.
The burden is on the plaintiff to affirmatively demonstrate the trial court's jurisdiction.
We must grant the plea to the jurisdiction if the plaintiff's pleadings affirmatively negate the existence of jurisdiction.
The court of appeals held that not one of the named plaintiffs had standing to pursue all of the putative class's claims. The court therefore held that none of the named plaintiffs had standing to pursue any of the class's claims, or to litigate whether the class should be certified.
According to plaintiffs, the court of appeals has dramatically rewritten the rules of standing. Plaintiffs argue that the court's holding "make[s] pleading an all-or-nothing game where either all claims proceed or no claims proceed." And in any event, plaintiffs assert that several of the named plaintiffs did have standing to pursue each and every one of the class's claims.
Thus, the threshold standing question here is whether a named plaintiff must have standing on all of the class's claims in order to pursue any of them. We hold that he does not. We further hold, for each claim, that at least one named plaintiff in this case had standing to assert that claim. Thus, the court of appeals erred in dismissing this suit on standing grounds.
A. General Principles
Standing is a constitutional prerequisite to suit.
The standing requirements extend to class actions.
These principles provide a starting point for our analysis, but this case raises a further question: What happens if a named plaintiff has individual standing on some, but not all, of the putative class's claims? We turn to this question next.
B. Must a Plaintiff Have Standing on Each Claim of the Purported Class to Pursue Certification?
The court of appeals concluded that the named plaintiffs, "both individually and collectively, have never had standing to pursue the full claims of the putative class.... Thus, there is no plaintiff with standing to pursue the claims of the putative class, nor can there be."
We disagree. We see no reason why a plaintiff who seeks to represent a class, but lacks standing on some of the purported class's claims, completely lacks standing to bring any claims.
The result we arrive at today is implicit in our earlier decisions. In the past, for example, we considered appeals where the trial court had already decided the question of certification and where the named plaintiffs brought similar but not identical claims — and thus had suffered similar but not identical injuries. The solution there, however, was not to dismiss the entire suit on standing grounds; rather, the solution was for the trial court to certify subclasses to ensure that a named plaintiff had suffered the same injury as the class or subclass.
Federal courts' decisions, too, support our conclusion today.
Indeed, our holding — that a plaintiff need not have standing on all claims of the purported class in order to seek class certification — is logically required by an implicit but fundamental principle of our standing jurisprudence. Whether considering the standing of one plaintiff or many, the court must analyze the standing of each individual plaintiff to bring each individual claim he or she alleges when that issue is before the court.
The U.S. Supreme Court has analyzed the standing of multiple named plaintiffs in class actions on a plaintiff-by-plaintiff, claim-by-claim basis. It has concluded that such analysis is necessary for two reasons. First, plaintiff-by-plaintiff analysis is necessary to ensure that the court exercises jurisdiction only over plaintiffs who individually have standing.
Second, claim-by-claim analysis is necessary to ensure that a particular plaintiff has standing to bring each of his particular claims. "[S]tanding is not dispensed in gross.... `[N]or does a plaintiff who has been subject to injurious conduct of one kind possess by virtue of that injury the necessary stake in litigating conduct of another kind, although similar, to which he has not been subject.'"
We see no reason why the rule should be different whether one plaintiff or many file suit, or whether that suit is brought as an individual or class action. A plaintiff's burden to establish standing does not decrease just because he brings his suit as a class action. He must still show that he has an individual, justiciable interest in the case; the named plaintiff
In short, we hold that where plaintiffs seek to represent a class, a plaintiff need not have standing on each and every one of the class's claims in order to satisfy the standing requirement. So long as an individual plaintiff has standing on some claim, he has standing to pursue class certification as to that claim.
C. Standing of the Parties
We now consider plaintiffs' individual standing. If at least one named plaintiff had individual standing to bring at least one claim, then the court of appeals erred in holding that none of the plaintiffs had standing to sue and therefore erred by dismissing the entire case on that basis.
In Texas, the standing doctrine requires a concrete injury to the plaintiff and a real controversy between the parties that will be resolved by the court.
Under Texas law, as under federal law, the standing inquiry begins with the plaintiff's alleged injury. The plaintiff must be personally injured — he must plead facts demonstrating that he, himself (rather than a third party or the public at large), suffered the injury.
The second element of the standing test requires that the plaintiff's alleged injury be "fairly traceable" to the defendant's conduct.
The third element of standing requires that the plaintiff's alleged injury be "likely to be redressed by the requested relief,"
The standing inquiry "requires careful judicial examination of a complaint's allegations to ascertain whether the particular plaintiff is entitled to an adjudication of the particular claims asserted."
In this case, four plaintiffs (Heckman, Maisenbacher, Peterson, and Newberry) sued six defendants (Williamson County, its constitutional county judge, three of its county court at law judges, and its magistrate judge, all in their official capacities), claiming that defendants violated three of their constitutional pretrial rights (counsel, self-representation, and open-court proceedings). A fifth plaintiff (Stempko) joins in this last claim.
Because they sued on behalf of themselves and a putative class, at least one named plaintiff must have had standing at the time he or she joined this suit.
a. Right-to-Counsel Claim
Heckman claims that defendants violated his right to counsel under the U.S. Constitution
Heckman claims that at his first appearance,
Defendants have not offered any evidence to refute these jurisdictional facts. Rather, they contend that Heckman's right-to-counsel claims were rendered moot by subsequent events. But subsequent events have no effect on whether, at the time of filing, Heckman was suffering from an injury sufficient to give him standing to sue. That is our inquiry here.
We conclude that Heckman has pleaded jurisdictional facts sufficient, for standing purposes, to establish that at the time he sued he was suffering from an injury-in-fact. The facts are sufficiently personal to him (rather than a third party or the general public);
Heckman levels his right-to-counsel claim against all six defendants. With regards to Williamson County, he asserts it "is responsible for the provision of indigent defense services within its borders." Heckman traces this responsibility to the Texas Fair Defense Act
We conclude that Heckman has pleaded facts sufficient, for standing purposes, to establish that his alleged injuries maybe "fairly trace[d]" to Williamson County.
Regardless of who is correct (both sides may be), we note that plaintiffs indisputably have sued the individual judges only in their official capacities. A suit under section 1983 against a government official in his official capacity "is not a suit against the official but rather is a suit against the official's office," although such a suit is treated as a suit against a "person" under section 1983 when the plaintiff seeks prospective injunctive relief, as plaintiffs seek in this suit.
Finally, our decision today should not be read to suggest any opinion about whether plaintiffs' allegations against these particular judges have merit.
Heckman, like the other named plaintiffs, sought injunctive and declaratory relief to remedy the alleged injuries to his right to counsel.
We conclude that Heckman has pleaded sufficient facts to establish that, at least at the time of filing, his injuries were "likely to be redressed by the requested relief."
b. Self-Representation Claim
Heckman claims that defendants "deprived and conspired to deprive" him of his constitutional right to represent himself. The U.S. Constitution implicitly protects this right,
In plaintiffs' second amended class action petition (their live pleading), Heckman claims that "court officials" pressured him to plead guilty or no contest to the charges against him and encouraged him to speak with a prosecutor without the aid of an attorney. His assertion appears to be that these actions, combined with defendants' ongoing violation of his right to counsel, violated his constitutional right to represent himself.
The legal theory behind this claim isn't exactly clear from the live pleadings, but plaintiffs' briefs provide some guidance. The argument appears premised on the rule that, while a criminal defendant has a right to represent himself, to do so he must first knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to counsel.
We conclude that Heckman has pleaded facts sufficient to establish an injury-in-fact. As for "traceability," the analysis that applied to Heckman's right-to-counsel claim applies equally here, given that this claim is based in part on that one. Finally, redressability is satisfied as it appears reasonable to assume that the same relief analyzed above had a likelihood of remedying this alleged injury.
Echoing the court of appeals, defendants argue that Heckman cannot claim a violation of his right to self-representation because he never asked to represent himself — rather, he requested court-appointed counsel.
Assuming as we must that all his factual assertions are true (unless disproven by defendants), and making all reasonable assumptions in his favor, we conclude that Heckman had standing to bring this claim when he filed suit.
c. Open-Courts Claim
Heckman claims that defendants violated his right to open-court proceedings. The U.S. Constitution explicitly guarantees public proceedings for a criminal defendant.
We conclude that Heckman has failed to establish the requisite injury-in-fact: He has not alleged that he, personally, was suffering from a deprivation of his right to open-court proceedings at the time he filed suit, or that he faced an imminent deprivation of this right. In their live pleading, plaintiffs allege that such deprivations occur in Williamson County during magistration and during the first appearance docket.
But Heckman had already undergone both of these proceedings by the time he filed suit, meaning he no longer suffered from this alleged injury. This in turn means that the alleged prior deprivations of his right to open-court proceedings cannot provide a basis for his claim for prospective relief: Because we do not assume recidivism, we cannot assume that he may undergo these alleged deprivations again in the future.
In sum, we conclude that at the time he joined this suit, Heckman had standing to claim that Williamson County violated his right to counsel and his right to self-representation. In light of our holding that a named plaintiff need not have standing on every claim of the putative class, we hold that Heckman's standing on these claims gave him standing to pursue certification of the putative class.
The court of appeals concluded that none of the named plaintiffs had individual standing to sue. The fact that Heckman did have standing on some claims is sufficient to conclude that the court of appeals erred. Therefore, we need not determine what claims, if any, the other named plaintiffs had standing to bring and whether those claims were ripe. We remand the remaining standing issues to the trial court, which must consider these issues before proceeding to the question of certification.
The court of appeals concluded that this suit is moot.
We disagree. While plaintiffs' individual claims are now moot, that does not dispose of this case. In the past, we have recognized — but have not adopted — exceptions to mootness in the class action context.
However, we are unable to conclude whether these claims qualify for the exception in light of intervening events in Williamson County. Therefore, we remand to the trial court to determine whether there likely still exists a class of individuals suffering from the same alleged deprivations of constitutional rights.
A. General Principles
Just as the Texas Constitution bars our courts from deciding a case when the plaintiff lacks standing,
Here, defendants assert — and plaintiffs concede — that all of plaintiffs' individual claims have become moot since they joined this lawsuit. We agree. After joining this suit, each of the named plaintiffs was appointed counsel. Thus, they could no longer claim that defendants were still violating their constitutional right to court-appointed counsel. Furthermore, in the years since plaintiffs filed this suit, all of the criminal cases against them have been resolved. As a result, they no longer have a cognizable interest in obtaining injunctive or declaratory relief from defendants' alleged violations of their, and the putative class's, criminal procedure rights.
Under normal circumstances, we would dismiss for want of jurisdiction.
B. Exceptions to Mootness in Class Actions
In a typical civil action, where a solo plaintiff brings a claim on his own behalf, the mootness analysis is usually straightforward: If the plaintiff's individual interest becomes moot, the entire suit ordinarily becomes moot. In a class action, however, the plaintiff brings a claim not just on his own behalf, but on behalf of an entire class of similarly-injured individuals. There, the named plaintiff's individual interest can become moot without necessarily affecting the class's interest in how the suit turns out. If a class of plaintiffs continues to have a live claim against the defendant notwithstanding the mooting of the named plaintiff's claim, then there will exist a tension between the mootness of the named plaintiff's individual interest on the one hand, and the continuing vitality of the class's claim on the
The existence of that tension leads to the question of whether there should be an exception to mootness in such circumstances. Indeed, the mootness question in this case is a by-product of that tension: Should a class action lawsuit survive when the individual claim of the named plaintiff becomes moot? This appears to be a question of first impression in this Court. By contrast, federal courts have extensively explored mootness in the class action context and have developed a body of exceptions that alleviate some of this tension. We therefore turn to their decisions for guidance.
Federal caselaw draws a bright line between two categories of class actions: those where the named plaintiff's interest becomes moot before the court decides on certification, and those where that happens afterwards. While they treat the two categories somewhat differently,
One such exception applies to "inherently transitory" claims. This exception is premised on the idea that some claims, by their nature, are so short-lived that it may be impossible for the trial court to decide on certification before the named plaintiff's individual claims become moot.
The mechanism that animates this exception is the relation-back doctrine: The court's decision on certification is deemed to "relate back" to the moment when the named plaintiff first filed the suit — a time when there still existed a live dispute between the named plaintiff and the defendant.
We note that the exception for "inherently transitory" claims is different and distinct from the exception for claims that are "capable of repetition, yet evading review"
Thus, to qualify for the exception for "inherently transitory" claims, the named plaintiff must show two things: First, that
We adopt the federal exception to mootness for "inherently transitory" claims. As discussed above, Texas courts generally lack the authority to decide a case if it ceases to be "live" or if the parties no longer have a cognizable interest in the outcome of the case.
Here, we conclude that plaintiffs' claims are sufficiently short-lived to satisfy the first element of the exception to mootness for inherently transitory claims. However, in light of the intervening events noted by defendants, we are unable to determine whether the claims of the putative class are now moot. Thus we are unable to determine whether the claims here satisfy the second element of the exception, or whether there no longer exists a class having these same constitutional claims.
The claims at issue — that defendants violated plaintiffs' constitutional rights to counsel, self-representation, and open courts — satisfy the first element of the exception. As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, "criminal trials are typically of `short duration.'"
However, we are unable to determine whether plaintiffs' claims satisfy the second element of the "inherently transitory" exception. On the one hand, plaintiffs' pleadings indicate that there was a widespread, systematic "custom or practice" in Williamson County of depriving indigent misdemeanor defendants of various pre-trial constitutional rights. By itself, this would appear to be enough to establish the alleged violations are likely to recur with regards to other members of an enduring class of individuals.
On the other hand, defendants point to a number of recent changes in the law and in the County. All of these changes occurred after plaintiffs sued. Defendants assert these changes have mooted this suit by remedying all of the claims of the putative class.
First, defendants apparently have adopted a new policy for appointing counsel to indigent criminal defendants in Williamson County.
We disagree. Defendants are correct that a suit can become moot at any time, including on appeal, and we agree that the courts have an obligation to take into account intervening events that may
But here, defendants' bald assertion that they are now in compliance with the law is simply not enough to establish that the claims of the putative class are now moot. The focus of plaintiffs' complaint is on defendants' actions and behavior, not their written policies. Nowhere in their pleadings do they assert that the written policies in place are somehow unconstitutional. Plaintiffs allege, after all, that defendants' "custom and practice" is to systematically and deliberately deprive indigent misdemeanor defendants of their constitutional rights. This allegation no more hinges on the constitutionality of the current official policy than it did on the previous one.
Indeed, plaintiffs might argue that defendants violated their constitutional rights in spite of the then-existing policy. Thus, the existence of new written policies may have no practical effect on how defendants actually treat individuals who appear in Williamson County's courtrooms. Defendants may be depriving indigent criminal defendants of their constitutional pre-trial rights now just as plaintiffs allege they did in the past.
Similarly, bald statements that Williamson County has hired additional staff, allegedly for the purpose of helping provide legal advice to indigent criminal defendants, falls well short of establishing that all of the class's claims are now moot.
We therefore remand this matter to the trial court to determine whether intervening events have truly mooted the claims of the putative class.
Absent such a showing, the suit is not moot: A class of individuals, consisting of criminal defendants who share many or all of these claims with the named plaintiffs, would still likely exist and would still have a live, justiciable controversy with defendants.
The court of appeals erred in concluding that a named plaintiff must have standing on each of the class's claims in order to seek class certification. Thus, the court erred in vacating the trial court's denial of defendants' plea the jurisdiction and in dismissing this case for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. At least one named plaintiff had standing to bring at least one of the class's claims. Finally, the court of appeals erred in concluding that the claims of the putative class are now all moot.
On remand, the trial court should determine whether "intervening events" have resolved (and thereby mooted) the constitutional claims of the class, or if instead the class maintains a live dispute with defendants. If the trial court finds the latter to be the case, it should determine which of the other named plaintiffs (if any) had standing to bring which of the putative class's claims.
Given the procedural posture of this case, we cannot at this time adjudicate the merits of plaintiffs' complaint. We note, however, the gravity of their allegations: The U.S. Supreme Court has described the right to counsel as "indispensable to the fair administration of our adversary system of criminal justice."
That said, our decision today is limited to jurisdictional issues. Because the court of appeals erred in dismissing this suit for want of subject matter jurisdiction, we reverse its decision and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
In James v. City of Dallas, another case defendants cite, the Fifth Circuit stated that "at least one named Plaintiff must have standing to seek injunctive relief on each of the claims against [the defendants]." 254 F.3d 551, 563 (5th Cir.2001). However, the court could not possibly have meant that at least one plaintiff must have standing on each and every claim: It held that the two named plaintiffs had standing to bring some claims but not others, and so dismissed just those claims for which both the plaintiffs lacked standing. Id. at 573.
The single case defendants point to which appears to support their position is Grant v. Gilbert, 324 F.3d 383, 389-90 (5th Cir.2003). However, we are unpersuaded by this lone case, especially in light of the authority going the other way.
But at the time she joined this suit, Williamson County had a published policy of preventing any non-defendants from attending a first appearance. The record includes a printout from the county attorney's website announcing the following: "Due to the limited only [sic] space, only the defendant is allowed in the courtroom for the first appearance setting. (No children, spouses, parents, or friends.)"
In light of Williamson County's stated and published rule, Jessica Stempko alleged that she likely would be denied access to her daughter's first appearance. And the right to a public trial belongs to members of the public just as it does to the accused. Presley, 130 S.Ct. at 723.
Thus, Jessica Stempko has pleaded facts sufficient, for standing purposes, to establish that she faced an imminent deprivation of her constitutional right to open-court proceedings. See Davis v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 554 U.S. 724, 734, 128 S.Ct. 2759, 171 L.Ed.2d 737 (2008) ("[T]he injury required for standing need not be actualized. A party facing prospective injury has standing to sue where the threatened injury is real, immediate, and direct."); Patterson v. Planned Parenthood of Houston & Se. Tex., Inc., 971 S.W.2d 439, 442 (Tex. 1998). Further, it seems reasonable to assume that this alleged injury is "fairly traceable" to Williamson County. And it seems that redressability is satisfied, too: Plaintiffs requested injunctive and declaratory relief that would require "defendants [to] allow members of the public access to court proceedings, including magistration and first appearance proceedings" and would declare that defendants' policy of doing otherwise "violates the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution."
But the Supreme Court has explicitly declined to extend this automatic "class action exception" to the former category of cases. See 1 WILLIAM B. RUBENSTEIN, NEWBERG ON CLASS ACTIONS § 2:11, at 110 (5th ed.2011). Most federal appellate courts have done the same. See id. § 2:11, at 111 n. 9 (citing cases from nearly every federal court of appeals). The result is a very bright line rule: If the named plaintiff's individual claims become moot after the trial court rules on certification, the suit will usually survive automatically, while if this happens before, the suit can survive only if another exception to mootness applies.
Here, the named plaintiffs' claims became moot before the trial court had time to decide whether to certify the class. Given the weight of federal authority, we decline to apply the automatic "class action exception" to mootness beyond the bounds of the Supreme Court's own caselaw. Therefore, if this class action is to survive the mooting of the named plaintiffs' individual claims, it must do so under another exception.