Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
RICHARD ALAN CARDEN and ROSALIE P. CARDEN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
REGIONS BANK, INC., Defendant-Respondent.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PHELPS COUNTY Honorable John D.
Beger, Circuit Judge
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.
Alan Carden and Rosalie P. Carden ("the Cardens"),
pro se appellants, appeal the judgment of the trial
court, in which the trial court sustained Regions Bank,
Inc.'s ("Regions") "Motion to
Dismiss." Regions filed with this Court a "Motion
to Strike Appellant's Brief and/or Dismiss Appeal, "
for the Cardens' failure to comply with Rule
84.04. That motion is sustained and we dismiss
Court has previously dismissed two separate appeals from
Richard A. Carden,  and one joint appeal from Richard A.
Carden and Rosalie P. Carden,  for Rule 84.04 briefing
violations. The same deficiencies now appear in the
Cardens' brief before us.
We note the most grievous of the Cardens' Rule 84.04
• Statement of Facts: Rule 84.04(c)
requires that "[t]he statement of facts shall be a fair
and concise statement of the facts relevant to the questions
presented for determination without argument. All statements
of fact shall have specific page references to the relevant
portion of the record on appeal[.]" In the Cardens'
"statement of facts, " argument-which is
prohibited-is rife; specific references to the record in
support of each fact-which are mandated-are absent.
See, Carden v. CSM Foreclosure Trustee
Corp., 479 S.W.3d 164, 165 (Mo.App. S.D. 2015).
• Points Relied On: Rule 84.04(d)
requires that each point relied on "be in substantially
the following form: 'The trial court erred in
[identify the challenged ruling or action], because
[state the legal reasons for the claim of reversible
error], in that [explain why the legal reasons, in
the context of the case, support the claim of reversible
error]."' None of the Cardens' six points
relied on, to the extent gratuity allows for such
classification,  belie even a token effort at compliance.
"Given that a template is specifically provided for in
Rule 84.04(d)(1), appellants simply have no excuse for
failing to submit adequate points relied on." Scott
v. King, 510 S.W.3d 887, 892 (Mo.App. E.D. 2017).
• Argument Section: Rule 84.04(e)
prohibits the use of "[l]ong quotations from cases and
long lists of citations" in argument sections. If the
Cardens read this rule, they were apparently unpersuaded by
it. In at least one instance, the "argument"
following a "point" is comprised solely of a single
quotation from authority. In other instances, the Cardens
provide a short recitation of principles of law-without
discussion of how such law interacts with the facts of the
case, see, Kyle Estate v. 21st
Mortgage Corporation, 515 S.W.3d 248, 254 (Mo.App. S.D.
2017)-and then voluminous strings of citation. Rule 84.04(e)
further requires that "[a]ll factual assertions in the
argument shall have specific page references to the relevant
portion of the record on appeal[.]" The Cardens
disregard this requirement wholesale: in no instance do the
Cardens provide any citation to the record in support of
facts in their argument section.
Notably, this Court did not summarily dismiss the
Cardens' three prior non-compliant briefs without
substantive comment, as it might have done. Rather, in each
instance, this Court undertook to detail the rules violated,
and the policy rationales underlying those rules, evincing
how such briefs could have been brought into compliance (but
were not), and why such compliance is necessary. The
Cardens' instant brief does not reflect acquiescence to
this Court's prior admonitions.
we sympathize with the burdens the Cardens face as pro
se litigants, this must not, and does not transfigure
into preferential treatment by this Court.
The rules of appellate practice . . . are simple and plain.
They fill no office of mere red tape, or as a show of surface
routine. To the contrary, they have substance, and carry on
their face the obvious purpose to aid appellate courts in
getting at the right of a cause. . . . If they are not
to be obeyed, they should be done away with once for all. A
just rule, fairly interpreted and enforced, wrongs no man.
Ostensibly enforced, but not, it necessarily wrongs some men
viz., those who labor to obey it-the very ones it should not
Sullivan v. Holbrook, 109 S.W. 668, 670 (Mo. 1908).
"equality before the law" depends on equal
enforcement of our Missouri Court Rules, including our Rule
84.04. The burden imposed on pro se litigants, who
are held to the same standard as counsel in complying with
Rule 84.04, is the self-same guarantor of equal treatment ...