Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JOHNSON COUNTY, MISSOURI THE
HONORABLE R. MICHAEL WAGNER, JUDGE
Thomas H. Newton, Presiding Judge, Victor C. Howard, Judge
and Karen King Mitchell, Judge
C. HOWARD, JUDGE
White appeals the trial court's judgment in favor of
MoBay Properties, LLC, quieting title to real estate in
Johnson County. Because of significant deficiencies in Mr.
White's appellate brief, the appeal is dismissed.
White appeals pro se. This court struck his initial
brief for multiple specific violations of Rule 84.04. Ms.
White filed an amended brief, and MoBay Properties
subsequently filed a motion to strike the amended brief for
noncompliance with Rule 84.04. The motion was taken with the
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.
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).
White'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." Mr. White's six-page jurisdictional
statement first appears to dispute the jurisdiction of the
Johnson County Circuit Court over Indian Tribal people or to
try issues regarding private property of Tribal People but
then acknowledges this court's jurisdiction and asks it
to reverse the circuit court's judgment, making various
arguments for why the judgment is erroneous. The
jurisdictional statement does not, however, 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). Mr. White's 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
his claims for appellate review. Id.
Mr. White'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.
White's point relied on is two single-spaced pages and
approximately 970 words long. It does not follow the template
provided in Rule 84-04(d). More importantly, it does not
properly identify the trial court ruling being challenged,
fails to state concisely the legal reasons of a claim of
reversible error, and fails to explain in summary fashion why
those 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
inappropriate role for the court. Id. Moreover, Mr.
White's point relied on asserts that the trial court
erred in supporting the defendant for multiple unrelated
reasons. When an appellant makes the entire judgment one
error and then lists multiple, disparate grounds for the
error, the point contains multiple legal issues in violation
of Rule 84.04(d). Smith v. Smith, 455 S.W.3d 26, 27
(Mo. App. E.D. 2014). "Multifarious points preserve
nothing for review." Id. (internal quotes and
citation omitted). See also Thummel v. King, 570
S.W.2d 679, 688 (Mo. banc 1978)(a point relied on violates
Rule 84.04(d) when it groups together multiple contentions
not related to a single issue).
the argument section is defective for several reasons. The
point relied on is not restated at the beginning of the
argument discussing the point, and the argument fails to
include the applicable standard of review. Rule 84.04(e).
More significantly, Mr. White's argument contains many
unsupported conclusions without explanation as to how the
principles of law cited interact with the facts of the case.
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