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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Norris v. Norris (3/27/2015) sp-6993

Norris v. Norris (3/27/2015) sp-6993

         Notice:  This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the PACIFIC  REPORTER .  

         Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts,  

         303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, email  



BRIANA A. NORRIS,                                      )  

                                                       )         Supreme Court No. S-15439  

                   Appellant,                          )  

                                                       )         Superior Court No. 4FA-12-02918 CI  

         v.                                            )  

                                                       )         O P I N I O N  

RICHARD K. NORRIS,                                     )  

                                                       )         No. 6993 - March 27, 2015  

                   Appellee.                           )  

_______________________________ )  

                   Appeal  from  the  Superior  Court  of  the  State  of  Alaska,  

                   Fourth Judicial District, Fairbanks, Paul R. Lyle, Judge.   

                   Appearances:  Megan  C.  Comolli  and  Jason  A.  Weiner,  

                   Gazewood & Weiner, P.C., Fairbanks, for Appellant.  Amy  


                   Tallerico, Downes &  Tallerico Law Firm, LLC, Fairbanks,  


                   for Appellee.   

                   Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and  


                   Bolger, Justices.  

                   STOWERS, Justice.  


                   A married couple moved from Fairbanks to Mississippi to "start a new life"  


and work on their marriage.  After living in Mississippi for a few months the husband  


filed  for  divorce,  and  a  Mississippi  court  entered  a  temporary  child  custody  order  

awarding the couple joint physical custody of their child.  A few months later the mother  


fled to Alaska with the child and filed for divorce in the Alaska Superior Court.  The  


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

 superior court dismissed the mother's action, concluding that Mississippi had exclusive  


jurisdiction  over  the  matter  under  the  Uniform  Child  Custody  Jurisdiction  and  


                                                     We affirm.  Mississippi had jurisdiction when it issued  

Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).  


its temporary child custody order because (1) Alaska did not have home state or recent  


home state jurisdiction when the father filed his suit in Mississippi, and (2) the child had  

a significant connection to Mississippi and substantial evidence was available there.  


            A.         Facts  

                                                         2                               3 

                       Richard Keith Norris  and Briana Belisle  met in Fairbanks while Keith was 

 stationed at Fort Wainwright.  Briana had lived in Fairbanks since 2006; Keith was born  


and  raised  in  Mississippi.    The  two  became  romantically  involved  and  had  a  child,  

           4                                                                   5 

Grant,  who was born in July 2011 in Fairbanks.   Briana and Keith married immediately  


after Grant's birth, but they quickly began experiencing marital problems.  The couple  


decided to move to Keith's hometown in Mississippi to "start a new life" and work on  


their marriage.  


                       The  military  moved  all  of  the  couple's  possessions  to  Mississippi  in  


July 2012, including their only vehicle.  Keith registered the vehicle upon arrival, and  

            1          UNIF . C     HILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION  &  ENFORCEMENT ACT  202 (1997).  

In Alaska the UCCJEA is codified at AS 25.30.300-910.  

            2          We refer to Richard as Keith throughout this opinion because that is his  

apparent preference.  

            3          Belisle is Briana's maiden name.  

            4          Pseudonyms have been used to protect the children's privacy.  

            5          Briana has another child, Miles, from a previous relationship.  Custody of   

Miles is not at issue in this case.  

                                                                       -2-                                                               6993

----------------------- Page 3-----------------------


both parties filled out and submitted change-of-address forms.  Briana testified that she  

only "left a few things" in Fairbanks, including her sneakers and a sewing machine.  

Both Briana and Keith opened bank accounts in Mississippi, and Briana applied for and  


received Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance. The parties initially lived with  

Keith's parents and discussed buying a house.  Keith's parents even took them to look  

at one.  But the couple ultimately rented a house for at least a one-year term.  Both  


parties signed the lease.  Briana fully unpacked, painted the boys' room, and hung art on  


the walls.  Keith began taking college classes  during  the day and working at night.  


Briana found a job working at a delicatessen, but she eventually quit.  Briana and Keith  


found a doctor for the boys, and Grant and Miles saw the doctor a handful of times while  

in Mississippi.  


                   In early September  2012  Keith moved out of the home and the parties  


began informally sharing custody of Grant.  Briana testified that in September she told  

Keith that she and the boys were returning to Alaska permanently.  She testified that  


Keith "was not happy about it" and "wanted to get something in writing before we had  

left."  Keith testified that he did not agree to a permanent return.  In late September  

Briana sent him a text message saying that she was taking Grant back to Alaska and was  


going to "take Keith for everything he was worth."   After this, Keith spoke with the  

police  and  took  custody  of  Grant  to  stop  Briana  from  leaving  the  state  with  him.  

          B.       Proceedings  


                   Keith filed for divorce in Mississippi on October 2, 2012.  The parties met  


in court a week later and signed a temporary custody order.  Briana alleges that she  

signed the order under duress, while Keith's former attorney testified that Briana initiated  

discussion of the temporary order and negotiated its terms with him.  The temporary  


order gave the parties joint legal and physical custody and barred both parents from  

                                                             -3-                                                       6993

----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

taking Grant more than 100 miles from the county without written consent from the other     



                     Two months later Briana violated this order by taking  Grant to Alaska  


without Keith's written consent.  She filed for divorce in the superior court in Fairbanks  


                                        Keith moved to dismiss the Alaska action for lack of subject  

on December 26, 2012.                                                                                     

matter jurisdiction, arguing that Mississippi assumed exclusive jurisdiction over the case  


by entering the first child custody order.  


                     The superior court held two hearings on the motion before concluding in  


its oral ruling that Mississippi lacked jurisdiction when it issued its October child custody  


order because Alaska still had home state jurisdiction.  The superior court reached this  

conclusion by including the time Grant lived in Mississippi towards its Alaska home  


state calculation.  But the court offered to revisit the issue of jurisdiction if either party  

filed a motion for reconsideration.  

                     Keith       moved         for     reconsideration            on     September           30,     2013.       On  


December 13, 2013, the superior court issued an order stating that it needed to conduct  


a  hearing  to  decide  whether  the  move  to  Mississippi  in  July  2012  was  temporary,  


whether  Grant  had  significant  connections  to  Mississippi,  and  whether  substantial  

evidence relating to his care was available there in order to determine which state had  

jurisdiction when Keith filed the first divorce action in Mississippi.  


                     The court held an evidentiary hearing a few days later, on December 17.  


 Several witnesses testified that both before and after the couple arrived in Mississippi,  


Briana always said the move was permanent.  Keith's mother testified that Briana told  

her that even if Briana's relationship with Keith did not work out, Briana was planning  

to stay in Mississippi to be close to the boys.  One witness testified that Briana wished  

           6         The Mississippi court thereafter awarded sole physical custody to Keith.  

                                                                 -4-                                                              6993  

----------------------- Page 5-----------------------


to "start . . . somewhere different for her."  Multiple witnesses also testified that the  

couple had discussed purchasing a house in Mississippi, and that once they rented a  


house  they  completely  moved  in.                     Keith's  mother  testified  that  Briana  had  sought  


information about schools for Miles and was trying to get him registered for Head Start  


in Mississippi.  And one witness testified that even during the separation, Briana "had  


no intentions [of] moving away from Mississippi," had moved her cousin into the house,  

and was looking for a job.  


                    Other witnesses testified that the move was temporary.  A few testified that  


Briana was worried that the heat in Mississippi could aggravate a medical condition she  

had.  One witness testified that "[t]hey were fighting all the time. . . .  This was like a  


last-ditch try to keep their marriage going."  Briana testified that she intended the move  


to be a six-month trial run and that she planned to return to Alaska with the boys if her  


relationship with Keith did not work out.  But none of the witnesses could point to any  


specific plans to return to Alaska at the time of the move; "[a]s far as [one witness] knew,  

they were leaving [Alaska] for good," and another witness explained that "they didn't  

know what was going to happen when they got [to Mississippi]."  


                    Keith and his mother testified that Grant and Miles saw Keith's parents at  


least every other day.  The boys spent holidays with family members, and Keith's aunts  

and uncles on both sides of his family frequently visited their house.  One of Keith's  


friends testified that Grant often played with his son.  Grant also attended church with  


Keith  and  would  "interact  with  the  congregation  there  during  summer  school  and  


                    The superior court issued a written decision on January 2, 2014, dismissing  


the Alaska case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The court found that the move to  


Mississippi was permanent because the parties moved all of their possessions, enrolled  


the children in child care, found jobs, entered into a long-term lease, and applied for state  

                                                                -5-                                                         6993

----------------------- Page 6-----------------------


assistance.  The superior court also  found that Grant had a significant connection to  


Mississippi and that substantial evidence was available there.  Based on these findings  



of fact,  the superior court concluded that when the Mississippi action was filed, neither 

Alaska nor Mississippi was Grant's home state8 because the parties had permanently  


moved to Mississippi but had not yet been in residence there for six months.  The court  


concluded that under these circumstances Mississippi would have jurisdiction because  

Grant had a significant connection to that state and substantial evidence was available  


there.  The superior court concluded that Mississippi had exclusive jurisdiction under the  

UCCJEA  as  the  first  court  to  issue  a  child  custody  determination.    Briana  appeals.  

          7          The  superior  court   framed  these   issues  -   permanence  of  the  move,  

temporary absence, significant connections, and substantial evidence - as questions of                          

fact.  Neither party directly challenges this conclusion on appeal, so we will review the  

issues as though they are factual. We note that there is significant disagreement regarding        

the standard of review under the UCCJEA for the permanency of a move, temporary  

absence, significant connections, and substantial evidence.  In Khawam v. Wolfe , a recent  


District of Columbia case, the court noted that it had not "decided whether 'significant  


connection'  and  'substantial  evidence'  determinations  under  the  UCCJEA  are  legal  

rulings to be reviewed de novo or instead should be reviewed deferentially."  84 A.3d  


558,  563  (D.C.  2014).    The  Khawam  court  looked  to  other  courts,  explaining  that  

"[c]ourts in other jurisdictions take varying approaches to that question." Id. It compared  


our decision in Steven v. Nicole, 308 P.3d 875, 879 (Alaska 2013), which reviewed  


whether substantial evidence existed for abuse of discretion, with In re Marriage of  

Sareen,  62  Cal.  Rptr.  3d  687,  691,  695  (Cal.  App.  2007),  which  reviewed  de  novo  


whether there was a significant connection, substantial evidence, and whether the move  


was temporary.  Id.  Because no party has briefed the standard of review issue, we do not  


decide it here. But we note that our statement in Steven that whether substantial evidence  


exists should be reviewed for an abuse of discretion was likely erroneous.  See 308 P.3d  


at 879.  Because the parties did not brief this issue, we leave it to be decided in a future  



          8          See AS 25.30.909(7) (defining home state as the state in which the child has  

lived for the six months immediately preceding the action).  

                                                                 -6-                                                          6993

----------------------- Page 7-----------------------


                    "Whether a court can exercise jurisdiction under the UCCJEA is a question  


                                                     9  We review any underlying factual determinations  

of law, which we review de novo."  



for clear error.           "A factual finding is clearly erroneous when a review of the record  

leaves the court with a definite and firm conviction that the superior court has made a  



mistake."          "The trial court's factual findings enjoy particular deference when they are  


based primarily  on oral testimony, because the trial court, not this court, judges the  


credibility of witnesses and weighs conflicting evidence."12  

                    We   review   the   superior   court's   procedural   decisions   for   abuse   of  



                    Briana argues that  (1) Alaska has jurisdiction because Mississippi did not  


have jurisdiction under the UCCJEA when it issued its initial custody order and (2) the  


superior court abused its discretion during the reconsideration proceedings by holding  


an evidentiary hearing and in the timing of its reconsideration.  

          9         Steven, 308 P.3d at 879.  

          10        Limeres v. Limeres , 320 P.3d 291, 295 (Alaska 2014) (reviewing factual       

findings for clear error).  

          11        Fardig  v.  Fardig ,  56  P.3d  9,  11  (Alaska  2002)  (quoting  Siekawich  v.  


Siekawich, 956 P.2d 447, 449, (Alaska 1998)) (internal quotation marks omitted).  

          12        Limeres , 320 P.3d at 296 (quoting Sheffield v. Sheffield, 265 P.3d 332, 335  


(Alaska 2011)) (internal quotation marks omitted).  

          13        Rockstad v. Erikson , 113 P.3d 1215, 1220 (Alaska 2005).  

                                                                -7-                                                         6993

----------------------- Page 8-----------------------


           A.	       The Superior Court Did Not Err When It Concluded That Mississippi  

                     Had Exclusive Jurisdiction.  

                     The superior court correctly recognized that whether it had jurisdiction was  

linked  to  whether  the  parties'  move  to  Mississippi  in  July  2012  was  permanent.  

Generally, a state may make a child custody determination only if another state has not  

already done so, or if the other state did not have proper jurisdiction when it issued its  



custody order.             At the time Briana filed her action in Alaska, Keith had already filed an  

action in Mississippi and remained in that state; thus, Alaska can only take jurisdiction  

if the Mississippi court did not have jurisdiction when the first action was filed.  



                     There are three relevant ways in which a court can gain jurisdiction. 


a court has jurisdiction if the state in which the court sits "is the home state of the child  


on the date of the commencement of the proceeding."                                     Second, a court has jurisdiction  

when the court's "state was the home state of the child within six months before the  


commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state but a parent or  

           14        Under the UCCJEA, as adopted in Alaska, once one state court has made       

"a child custody determination consistent with AS 25.30.300 or 25.30.320" then that  

court "has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination." Thus, once a court  


in a sister state has made a custody decision, the Alaska court must determine whether  


that decision was "consistent with AS 25.30.300 or 25.30.320," the provisions that gives  

a court jurisdiction.  If the court in the sister state issuing the decision had jurisdiction,  


then Alaska can only exercise emergency jurisdiction, absent a change in circumstances.  

See  AS  25.30.310  (exclusive  jurisdiction);  AS  25.30.330  (temporary  emergency  

jurisdiction); AS 25.30.350 (simultaneous proceedings).  



                     There are two other jurisdictional bases of AS 25.30.300, but they are not  


relevant to this appeal.  Those two provisions deal with situations in which the child has  


no home state and any state with a significant connection has declined jurisdiction.  See  

AS 25.30.300(a)(4)-(5).  

           16        AS 25.30.300(a)(1).  

                                                                  -8-	                                                           6993

----------------------- Page 9-----------------------


person acting as a parent continues to live in this state."                        "[H]ome state" is defined as  


"the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least  

six consecutive months, including any  temporary absences  of the child or parent or  

person acting as a parent,  immediately before the commencement of a child custody  

proceeding."18  Thus, a state may retain home state jurisdiction if all the parties are absent  


from the state, but only if the absence is a "temporary absence."                              Finally, a court can  

have jurisdiction when no other state has jurisdiction under the first two provisions, so  


long as the child and at least one parent have a significant connection to the state and  


substantial evidence relevant to the child's care is located in the state.20  

                   1.	      Grant did not have a home state when the Mississippi action  


                            was filed.  

                   Briana argues that the superior court erred when it concluded that Alaska  


was not Grant's home state because the move to Mississippi was a "temporary absence."  


Keith replies that when  the  couple permanently moved to Mississippi in July 2012,  

Alaska lost home state jurisdiction.  If the absence from Alaska was temporary, then  

Alaska was Grant's home state for the duration of his time in Mississippi; if the move  


was permanent, then Alaska lost home state jurisdiction when Grant left the state in  


                   The superior court found "it more likely true than not true that the parties  

July 2012.                                                          

          17	      AS 25.30.300(a)(2).  

          18       AS 25.30.909(7) (emphasis added).  

          19       See id.; AS 25.30.300.  

         20        AS 25.30.300(a)(3)(A)-(B).  

         21        See AS 25.30.300; AS 25.30.909(7).  

                                                           -9-	                                                    6993

----------------------- Page 10-----------------------


intended  their  move  to  Mississippi  to  be  permanent  when  they  left  Alaska  in  

July 2012."22  


                     Based on the totality of the circumstances, the superior court did not clearly  


err when it found that the move from Alaska to Mississippi was permanent.  While the  


record contains some evidence supporting an intention to move temporarily, the majority  


of the evidence points to a permanent move.  The parties moved all of their belongings  


to Mississippi, re-registered their car, found work, applied for public assistance, enrolled  


the children in daycare, found a doctor for the children, and entered into a lease of at  

least a year's duration in Mississippi.  Credible witnesses testified that the parties had  


discussed buying a house in Mississippi.  And most of the witnesses, even the ones who  

          22        As the superior court noted, we have not adopted a definition of "temporary  

absences."  The UCCJEA also does not define "temporary absences."  Other jurisdictions  

have  used  varying  tests  to  determine  whether  an  absence  is  temporary,  including:  


"(1) looking at the duration of absence, (2) examining whether the parties intended the  

absence to be permanent or temporary, and (3) adopting a totality of the circumstances  


approach   to  determine  whether  the  absence  was  merely  a  temporary  absence."  


Chick   v.   Chick,   596   S.E.2d   303,   308   (N.C.   App.   2004)   (citing   T.H.   v.   A.S.,  


938  S.W.2d  910  (Mo.  App.  1997));  see  also  In  re  S.M.,  938  S.W.2d  910,  918  

(Mo. App. 1997) (examining other approaches).  In the past we have looked to all of the  


relevant  circumstances  in  order  to  decide  whether  an  absence  was  temporary.  See  


Atkins v. Virgil , 59 P.3d 255, 257-58 (Alaska 2002) (per curiam) (looking to the parties'  


intentions, not merely the child's physical presence in another state).  We believe the  

totality of the circumstances test "is best suited to adequately deal with the variety of  

situations which occur" in child custody proceedings.  In re S.M. , 938 S.W.2d at 918;  


see also Chick, 596 S.E.2d at 308 ("[The totality of the circumstances test] provides  


greater flexibility to the court making the determination by allowing for consideration  


of additional circumstances that may be presented in the multiplicity of factual settings  


in which child custody jurisdictional issues may arise.").  

                                                               -10-                                                         6993

----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

testified the move was temporary, indicated that the parties were moving to Mississippi  


to start over and work on their marriage.23  


                    Because the move was permanent, Grant had not lived in Alaska for "six  

consecutive months . . . immediately before the commencement" of the child custody  


                                                                           Thus,  at  the  time  the  Mississippi  

proceeding  in  Mississippi  in  October  2012. 


proceeding was filed, Alaska was not Grant's home state.  But Mississippi was not  


Grant's home state either, because Grant had only lived in Mississippi for three months  


at the time the Mississippi proceeding commenced, not the six months required for home  


                     The superior court did not err when it concluded that Grant did not have  

state status.                                                                                                 

a home state when the October 2012 Mississippi proceedings were initiated.  

                    2.	      Mississippi          had      jurisdiction         when       Keith       filed     the    first  


                    Neither of the UCCJEA's first two jurisdictional bases apply to this case.  


Under the first - home state jurisdiction - a court that is the home state of the child  


may make a custody decision,26 but as explained above, Grant did not have a home state  


in October 2012. The second jurisdictional basis - recent home state jurisdiction -  


          23        The court also did not clearly err when it found that Keith did not agree that     

Briana would permanently return with the boys to Alaska.  Keith spoke to a lawyer  

immediately after he discovered she was leaving and kept Grant in his custody.  And  


Briana's aunt, Marcy McGraw, only testified that Keith knew Briana had bought plane  


tickets to Alaska; she did not testify that he consented to a permanent move.  Keith's  

timing  in  talking  with  a  lawyer  and  withholding  Grant  immediately  after  that  


conversation supports the finding that he did not agree that Grant would permanently  

return to Alaska.  

          24        AS. 25.30.909(7) (emphasis added).  

          25        See id.  

          26        AS 25.30.300(a)(1).  

                                                             -11-	                                                      6993

----------------------- Page 12-----------------------


confers jurisdiction on a state when that state "was the home state of the child within six  

months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this  



state but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this state." 

Alaska had been Grant's home state within the last six months, no "parent or person  


acting as a parent continue[d] to live in [Alaska]" when the Mississippi action was filed;  

thus, this provision is also inapplicable to ground jurisdiction in Alaska.  

                    Under  the  third  jurisdictional  basis,  a  state  may  make  an  initial  child  


custody determination when another state does not have jurisdiction under either home  



state jurisdiction or recent home state jurisdiction.                        But "the child . . . and at least one  


parent [must] . . . have a significant connection with [the] state other than mere physical  

presence," and "substantial evidence [must be] available in [the] state concerning the  

          27        AS 25.30.300(a)(2) (emphasis added).  

          28        AS 25.30.300(a) provides:  


                    [A] court of this state has jurisdiction to make an initial child  


                    custody determination only if  

                    . . . .  

                    (3) a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under  

                    provisions substantially similar to [home state jurisdiction] or  


                    [recent home state jurisdiction], or a court of the home state  


                    of  the  child  has  declined  to  exercise  jurisdiction  on  the  

                    ground that this state is the more appropriate forum . . . , and  

                    (A) the child and the child's parents, or the child and at least  


                    one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant  

                    connection with this state other than mere physical presence;  


                    (B) substantial evidence is available in this state concerning  


                    the    child's       care,     protection,        training,       and      personal  


                                                             -12-                                                       6993

----------------------- Page 13-----------------------



child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships."                                 In Steven v. Nicole we  

affirmed the superior court's finding that substantial evidence was available in Alaska  


even though the children had not lived here full-time for eight years.                                    The children still  


visited Alaska, and we held that evidence relevant to the mother's lifestyle and home in  


Alaska  would  be  relevant  to  the  proceeding.                             And  in  Mikesell  v.  Waterman  we  

intimated that substantial evidence existed in New Mexico although the child no longer  



lived there.         The child still visited New Mexico on vacation, had previously lived there,  

and one of the parents still lived there.33  


                    Here the superior court found that Grant had a significant connection to  


Mississippi and that substantial evidence of his care, protection, training, and personal  



relationships  could  be  found  there.                      Briana  argues  that  these  findings  are  clearly  



erroneous.           But the superior court's findings are supported by the record.  At the time  


the Mississippi action was filed, Grant and both his parents lived in Mississippi.  Grant  

          29        AS 25.30.300(a)(3)(A)-(B).  

          30         308 P.3d 875, 879-82 (Alaska 2013).  

          31        Id. at 879-80.  

          32         197 P.3d 184, 189 (Alaska 2008).  

          33        Id.  

          34        There is no dispute regarding Keith's connection to Mississippi:  he was  

born and raised in Mississippi and continues to be a resident there.  

          35        Briana  mainly  argues  that  the  superior  court  erred  because  Grant's  

connection to Alaska was more significant.  But the superior court never found that  

Grant's connections to Mississippi were more significant than his connections to Alaska,  


just that his connections to Mississippi were significant.  The statute does not ask which  


connections  are  more  significant,  it  asks  only  if  significant  connections  exist.  See  


AS 25.30.300(a)(3)(A).  Therefore, Briana's argument is misplaced.  

                                                               -13-                                                        6993

----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

has extended family in Mississippi, whom he saw regularly.  He had a primary doctor  


and a daycare center that he attended.  And he had a friend he played with and other  

children and adults he associated with at summer school.  The superior court did not  


clearly err in finding that Grant had a significant connection to Mississippi and that  

substantial evidence would be available there.  


                    Because Grant had a significant connection to Mississippi and substantial  


relevant evidence was located there, Mississippi had jurisdiction when Keith initiated the  


October 2012 child custody action.  And once a child custody proceeding had "been  

previously commenced in a court of another state having jurisdiction substantially in  

conformity  with  this  chapter,"  Alaska  no  longer  could  exercise  jurisdiction.36                                  The  


superior court did not err by dismissing the case after it concluded that it did not have  

subject matter jurisdiction.  

          B.	       The Superior Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion During Its Review  

                    Of The Motion For Reconsideration.  

                    Briana  argues  that  the  superior  court  should  not  have  accepted  new  

evidence on reconsideration and that the motion was deemed denied by operation of  


Alaska Civil Rule 77(k)(4) because the court issued its decision more than 30 days after  

she filed her response brief.  Neither argument has merit.  


                    Here, the superior court realized it had incorrectly analyzed the issue and  


also realized that it needed to conduct an evidentiary hearing to resolve lingering factual  


issues.  Although reconsideration should not be "used as a means to seek an extension  

of time for the presentation of additional evidence on the merits of [a] claim,"37 the  


superior court must "be allowed to reconsider and reverse an earlier ruling if convinced  

          36        AS 25.30.350.  

          37       Neil & Co. v. Ass'n of Vill. Council Presidents Reg'l Hous. Auth.                             , 895 P.2d  

497, 506 (Alaska 1995).  

                                                             -14-                                                          6993  

----------------------- Page 15-----------------------



that the earlier ruling was erroneous."                  Regarding Briana's second argument, the parties  


were well informed a ruling on the motion would be forthcoming and the 30-day time  

period  set  out  in  Rule  77(k)(4)  was  not  applicable  because  the  court  may  address  


                                                                               The superior court did not abuse  

questions of subject matter jurisdiction at any time. 


its  discretion  by  holding  an  evidentiary  hearing  or  ruling  on  the  motion  more  than  

30 days after Briana filed her response brief.  

V.        CONCLUSION  

                    We AFFIRM the superior court in all respects.  

          38        Gold Dust Mines, Inc., v. Little Squaw Gold Mining Co.                         , 299 P.3d 148, 158  

(Alaska 2012).  

          39        See Hawkins v. Attatayuk, 322 P.3d 891, 895 (Alaska 2014) ("The issue of  


subject matter jurisdiction 'may be raised at any stage of the litigation and if noticed must  


be raised by the court if not raised by one of the parties.' " (quoting Hydaburg Co-op.  

Ass'n v. Hydaburg Fisheries , 925 P.2d 246, 248 (Alaska 1996))).  

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