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King v. King

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

April 24, 2018

JOSEPH ASHTON KING, Appellant,
v.
CAROLINE HILTON KING, Respondent.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 15SL-DR03078 Honorable Thea A. Sherry, Judge

          OPINION

          Lisa P Page, Presiding Judge.

         Joseph Ashton King ("Husband") appeals the trial court's dissolution judgment of his marriage to Caroline Hilton King ("Wife"). We dismiss the appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         The marriage of the parties was dissolved in late 2016. Following numerous post judgment pleadings and exhibits, Husband filed the present appeal.

         DISCUSSION

         Husband, acting pro se, filed a brief raising seven points on appeal. In addition to her response brief, Wife has filed a motion to strike the legal file and brief and to dismiss Husband's appeal. In her motion, Wife alleges numerous violations of Missouri Supreme Court Rules 81.12 and 84.04.

          The rules for appellate briefing set forth in Rule 84.04 are mandatory. Rockwell v. Wong, 415 S.W.3d 805 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013) (citing Wong v. Wong, 391 S.W.2d 917, 918 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013)). Compliance with the requirements is necessary to ensure we do not become an advocate by inferring facts and arguments an appellant fails to set forth. Id. at 806. The failure to, at least substantially, comply with Rule 84.04 preserves nothing for our review and is grounds for dismissal. Id. In the interest of judicial impartiality, judicial economy and fairness to all parties, pro se appellants like Husband are required to comply with the rules, including Rule 84.04. Dubroc v. Dubroc, 537 S.W.3d 369, 370-71 (Mo. App. W.D. 2017). We may exercise our discretion to review briefs which suffer from violations of Rule 84.04. However, Husband's brief simply contains too many deficiencies and violations of Rule 84.04 for meaningful appellate review. Accordingly, this appeal must be dismissed.

         A. Statement of Facts

         Pursuant to Rule 84.04(c), Husband was required to include a "fair and concise statement of the facts relevant to the questions presented for determination without argument." In addition, Rule 84.04(c) requires an appellant to cite the specific page reference to the "relevant portion of the record on appeal, i.e., legal file, transcript, or exhibits."

         Husband's approximately fifteen-page statement of facts contains a significant amount of argument concerning the facts underlying the dissolution. He makes statements of "fact" concerning Wife's parenting, her alleged alienation of him and her resources from her "wealthy parents." Many of these claims are without citation to the record or include citations to documents filed after the judgment of dissolution, conflating dissolution judgment issues properly before this court with post-dissolution matters not subject to appellate review at this time. In addition, Husband arbitrarily makes several bald assertions that the court's decisions were made "improvidently."[1] The lengthy, argumentative statement of facts fails to comply with Rule 84.04(c).

         B. Points Relied On

         Similar to the statement of facts, Husband's points relied on do not comply with Rule 84.04(d), which requires Husband to identify the trial court ruling or action challenged, state the legal reasons for the claim of reversible error and explain why the legal reasons in the context of the particular case support the claim of reversible error. This is to provide the respondent with notice of the precise matter which must be answered and to inform the court of the issues presented. Dubroc, 537 S.W.3d at 371 (internal citation omitted). Husband's points relied on fail to give Wife or this court such crucial information. Instead, his points assert multiple allegations of error without any identification of the ruling or action challenged nor any clear legal reason for the claims of error.

         Husband's most deficient section of the brief are the arguments supporting his points relied on in violation of Rule 84.04(e), which requires Husband to include a "concise statement of the applicable standard of review for each claim of error." However, Husband initially sets forth three separate standards of review. He cites an abuse of discretion standard, de novo review and plain error review for each of his seven points. In addition, in his recitation of multiple standards of review, Husband's brief ...


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