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State v. Rose

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 28, 2018

State of North Dakota, and Michelle A. Dworshak Rose, n/k/a Michelle A. Alcaraz, Plaintiffs and Appellees
v.
Joshua D. Rose, Defendant and Appellant

          Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Richard L. Hagar, Judge.

          Meredith K. Childress, Minot, ND, for plaintiffs and appellees.

          Joshua D. Rose, self represented, Minot, ND, defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.

          OPINION

          MCEVERS, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Joshua Rose appeals a district court order denying his motion to reinstate his driver's license. Because the district court was without subject matter jurisdiction to review the Minot Regional Child Support Unit's decision to suspend Rose's license, we vacate the orders relating to his suspension.

         I

         [¶ 2] Under an April 2014 district court judgment, Rose was ordered to pay $836 per month in child support. In May 2016, the Minot Regional Child Support Unit notified Rose of its intent to suspend his driver's license, alleging he owed over $31, 000 in past due child support. In June 2016, Rose requested a hearing to review the Unit's decision. After two hearings, the district court issued an order suspending Rose's license in February 2017.

         [¶ 3] In December 2017, Rose moved to reinstate his driver's license. He argued he was laid off in February 2016 and was unable to find a job because he did not have a license. He also argued the district court failed to inquire into his ability to pay child support at an earlier hearing relating to the suspension of his driver's license. The court denied Rose's motion to reinstate his driver's license. Rose now appeals that order.

         II

         [¶ 4] Before reaching the merits of Rose's appeal, we must first decide whether the district court had jurisdiction to review the Unit's decision to suspend Rose's license.

         [¶ 5] "The right to appeal is governed solely by statute." Meier v. N.D. Dep't of Human Servs., 2012 ND 134, ¶ 4, 818 N.W.2d 774. "[I]n order for a court to have subject matter jurisdiction over an appeal, the appellant must meet the statutory requirements for perfecting the appeal." Reliable, Inc. v. Stutsman Cty. Comm'n, 409 N.W.2d 632, 634 (N.D. 1987); see also Altru Specialty Servs., Inc. v. N.D. Dep't of Human Servs., 2017 ND 270, ¶ 8, 903 N.W.2d 721 ("The statutory requirements for filing and serving a notice of appeal... are jurisdictional."). Subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived and can be raised sua sponte at any time in a proceeding. Garaas v. Cass Cty. Joint Water Res. Dist., 2016 ND 148, ¶ 4, 883 N.W.2d 436; see also Dahlen v. Dahlen, 393 N.W.2d 765, 767 (N.D. 1986) ("[I]t is the duty of this court to raise jurisdictional issues on its own whenever such an issue appears on the record, even though the issue is not raised by the parties.").

         [¶ 6] Here, the Unit notified Rose of its intent to suspend his driver's license under N.D.C.C. § 50-09-08.6. Under N.D.C.C. § 50-09-08.6(2)(b), the child support agency may suspend a license of "[a]n obligor who is listed on the arrears registry." Before suspending an obligor's license, the state agency must notify the obligor:

Before withholding, restricting, or suspending a license under subdivision a or b of subsection 2, the state agency shall send a notice to the licensee by first-class mail to the licensee's last-known address stating that the licensee has thirty days after the date of the notice to comply with the subpoena, satisfy the arrearage in full, or negotiate a payment plan with the state agency under this section. The notice must further state that the licensee may contest the action of the state agency by making a written request for a court hearing under subsection 5 within ten days of the date of the notice.

N.D.C.C. § 50-09-08.6(3). The licensee has ten days from the date of the notice to request a court hearing. Id.; see also N.D.C.C. ยง 50-09-08.6(5). If a licensee requests a ...


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