CHASITY HORNSBY; AND M.H., B.H. AND H.H, MINOR CHILDREN, THROUGH THEIR MOTHER APPELLANTS
HOUSING AUTHORITY OF DRY RIDGE APPELLEE
DISCRETIONARY REVIEW FROM GRANT CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE R.
LESLIE KNIGHT, JUDGE ACTION NO. 17-XX-00001
FOR APPELLANT: Peter C. Nienaber Terry M. Cannon Covington,
FOR APPELLEE: Peter W. Whaley Williamstown, Kentucky
BEFORE: ACREE, DIXON, AND THOMPSON, JUDGES.
OPINION REVERSING AND REMANDING
Court granted Appellants', Chasity Hornsby, M.H., B.H.,
and H.H. (collectively "Hornsby"), motion for
discretionary review of an order of the Grant Circuit Court
affirming the Grant District Court's order of eviction.
For the reasons set forth herein, we reverse the trial court
and remand this matter for further proceedings.
December 28, 2016, Appellee, the Dry Ridge Housing Authority,
filed a forcible detainer complaint against Hornsby in the
Grant District Court. The complaint made a number of
allegations that Hornsby had breached her lease agreement.
The complaint was prepared and signed by Dione Kinman,
Executive Director of the Housing Authority.
January 10, 2017, the district court held a forcible detainer
hearing. Both Hornsby and Kinman appeared. At the beginning
of the hearing, Hornsby requested that the action be
dismissed because Kinman, who is not an attorney, was
appearing for the Housing Authority.  Kinman responded,
"we're a housing authority, we're
allowed." The district court denied Hornsby's
request and the hearing proceeded. Kinman then testified and
provided documentary evidence regarding the allegations in
the complaint. In addition, two other housing authority
employees testified, both corroborating the allegations
contained in the complaint. At the close of the hearing, the
district court found that Hornsby had violated the lease in
multiple respects and entered a judgment granting the
January 17, 2017, Hornsby filed a notice of appeal in the
Grant Circuit Court. Hornsby thereafter filed a statement of
appeal arguing that the district court's judgment should
be vacated because Kinman engaged in the unauthorized
practice of law by filing the forcible detainer complaint and
representing the Housing Authority in her role as Executive
Director despite not having a law license. The Housing
Authority, through counsel, filed a counterstatement. On
March 27, 2017, the circuit court entered an order affirming
the district court. Therein, the circuit court found that
"KRS 80.050 specifically vests the power to 'sue and
be sued' to the . . . housing authority. Therefore, Dione
Kinman was not engaged in the unauthorized practice of
law." The circuit court also affirmed the district court
on other grounds not challenged herein. Hornsby then filed a
motion for discretionary review in this Court, which was
granted by order entered September 25, 2017.
that during pendency of the appellate process, Hornsby
vacated the premises. Arguably, the issue presented herein
could be regarded as moot and, in fact, the Housing Authority
filed a motion in this Court to dismiss on such grounds.
Nonetheless, we are persuaded by the language of our Supreme
Court's recent opinion in Shinkle v. Turner,
As we noted in Morgan v. Getter, "The general
rule is . . . that 'where, pending an appeal, an event
occurs which makes a determination of the question
unnecessary or which would render the judgment that might be
pronounced ineffectual, the appeal should be
dismissed.'" 441 S.W.3d 94, 99 (Ky. 2014) (citations
omitted). As methodically explained in Morgan, we
recognize and may apply a "public interest"
exception to that general rule when the following three
elements are present: (1) a question of law that is of a
public nature; (2) a need for an authoritative determination
for the future guidance of public officers; and (3) a
likelihood of future recurrence of the question. Id.
All three of those are elements present in this matter.
First, the proper and efficient application of the law
pertaining to the special statutory proceeding for forcible
entry and detainer is a matter of public interest. . . .
Second, the statutory process for the adjudication of
forcible entry and detainer cases is difficult to apply in
the modem court system. The dearth of reported appellate
opinions addressing those difficulties leaves our district
courts to improvise on their own with little guidance from
the appellate courts, leading to inconsistent application of
the same statutory standards. Third, the factual situation
presented by this case is a recurrent event in modern life
that very often arises under circumstances in which appellate
review is highly unlikely. Consequently, we are satisfied
that all three elements of the "public interest"
exception to the mootness doctrine are present here, and our
duty lies in resolving the issue for the benefit of those
whose lives and property are affected by it.
496 S.W.3d 418, 420-21 (Ky. 2016).
concerned the general statutory scheme governing forcible
detainer actions set forth in KRS 383.200-.285. However, we
believe that the issue of whether a housing authority's
executive director can act as the legal representative in a
forcible detainer action also satisfies the elements of the
"public interest" exception to the mootness
doctrine and thus, "our duty lies in resolving the ...