FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PETTIS COUNTY, MISSOURI THE
HONORABLE RICHARD P. BEARD, II, JUDGE
Division Three: Lisa White Hardwick, Presiding Judge, Victor
C. Howard, Judge, and Alok Ahuja, Judge
C. HOWARD, JUDGE
Dubroc appeals the trial court's amended judgment of
dissolution of marriage. Because of significant deficiencies
in Ms. Dubroc's appellate brief, the appeal is dismissed.
Dubroc appeals pro se. Pro se appellants
are held to the same standards as lawyers. J.L. v.
Lancaster, 453 S.W.3d 348, 350 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015).
Although this court is mindful of the difficulties that a
party appearing pro se encounters in complying with
rules of procedure, pro se appellants must be
required to comply with these rules. Id. "It is
not for lack of sympathy, but rather is necessitated by the
requirement of judicial impartiality, judicial economy, and
fairness to all parties." Id. (internal quotes
and citation omitted). Thus, pro se appellants must
comply with Supreme Court Rule 84.04, which sets forth
various requirements for appellate briefs. Id.
Compliance with the briefing requirements of Rule 84.04 is
mandatory to ensure that the appellate court does not become
an advocate by speculating on facts and arguments that have
not been made. Id. Violations of the rule are
grounds for dismissal of an appeal. Id.
Whether to dismiss an appeal for briefing deficiencies is
discretionary. That discretion is generally not exercised
unless the deficiency impedes disposition on the merits. It
is always our preference to resolve an appeal on the merits
of the case rather than to dismiss an appeal for deficiencies
in the brief.
Id. (internal quotes and citation omitted).
Dubroc's brief is deficient in many respects. First, the
jurisdictional statement does not comply with Rule 84.04(b).
That rule provides, in pertinent part, "The
jurisdictional statement shall set forth sufficient factual
data to demonstrate the applicability of the particular
provision or provisions of article V, section 3, of the
Constitution upon which jurisdiction is sought to be
predicated." Ms. Dubroc's jurisdictional statement
provides that this case is an appeal from a judgment of the
Pettis County circuit court and argument regarding why that
judgment was erroneous. It does not set forth sufficient
facts to demonstrate the applicability of a particular
provision of article V, section 3, whereon the jurisdiction
of this court is predicted. The jurisdictional statement is,
therefore, inadequate under Rule 84.04(b).
the statement of facts fails to comply with Rule 84.04(c),
which requires "a fair and concise statement of the
facts relevant to the question presented for determination
without argument. All statements of fact shall have specific
page references to the relevant portion of the record on
appeal, i.e., legal file, transcript, or exhibits."
"The primary purpose of the statement of facts is to
afford an immediate, accurate, complete and unbiased
understanding of the facts of the case." Lattimer v.
Clark, 412 S.W.3d 420, 422 (Mo. App. W.D. 2013)(internal
quotes and citation omitted). Ms. Dubroc's one-paragraph
statement of facts is one-sided, incomplete, and
argumentative. It does not contain specific page references
to the relevant portion of the record on appeal. Such
deficiencies fail to preserve her claims for appellate
Ms. Dubroc's brief violates Rule 84.04(d) concerning
points relied on. The rule provides that each point identify
the trial court ruling or action being challenged, state
concisely the legal reasons for the claim of reversible
error, and explain in summary fashion why, in the context of
the case, the legal reasons support the claim of reversible
error. Rule 84.04(d). The rule further sets out the form the
points shall substantially follow. Id. "The
purpose of the briefing requirements regarding points relied
on is to give notice to the party opponent of the precise
matter which must be contended with and answered and to
inform the court of the issues presented for
resolution." Lancaster, 453 S.W.3d at 350.
sole point reads, "The judge made his ruling with
respondetence [sic] statements. The judge made rulings on
despondence [sic] statements. He did not use true facts and
figures as well as documents as well as respondence [sic]
exhibits." The point does not follow the template
provided in Rule 84.04(d). More importantly, it does not
identify the trial court ruling that Ms. Dubroc challenges or
the legal reasons for the claim of reversible error and does
not explain why the legal reasons support a claim of
reversible error. "Under Rule 84.04, it is not proper
for the appellate court to speculate as to the point being
raised by the appellant and the supporting legal
justifications and circumstances." Fesenmeyer v.
Land Bank of Kansas City, 453 S.W.3d 271, 274 (Mo. App.
W.D. 2014)(internal quotes and citation omitted). Such
speculation would place the appellate court in the role of an
advocate, which is an inappropriate role for the court.
Id. Additionally, the point fails to comply with the
requirement of Rule 84.04(d) that "[i]mmediately
following each 'Point Relied On, ' the
appellant…shall include a list of cases, not to exceed
four, and the constitutional, statutory, and regulatory
provisions or other authority upon which that party
principally relies." Ms. Dubroc cites no authority
following her point.
the argument section is defective for several reasons. It
fails to state the applicable standard of review. Rule
84.04(e). More significantly, it makes no legal argument and
contains no citation to authority. At best, Ms. Dubroc
attempts to cite section 452.330, RSMo 2016, but does not
explain the statute's relevance or how it applies to the
facts. An argument "should demonstrate how principles of
law and the facts of the case interact."
Fesenmeyer, 453 S.W.3d at 274 (internal quotes and
citation omitted). The argument contains mostly factual
assertions, which do not have specific page references to the
relevant portion of the record on appeal. Rule 84.04(e).
"A contention that is not supported with argument beyond
conclusions is considered abandoned." Lattimer,
412 S.W.3d at 423.
address the merits of this appeal, this court would have to
act as Ms. Dubroc's advocate by searching the record for
relevant facts of the case, deciphering her point on appeal,
crafting a legal argument, and locating authority to support
it. This we cannot do. Id. While an appellate court
prefers to decide cases on the merits, the deficiencies of