Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County Cause No.
17SF-CC00111 Honorable Joseph L. Goff, Jr.
Colleen Dolan, P.J.
Bruce ("Bruce") appeals the circuit court's
grant of the City of Farmington's ("the City")
motion to dismiss. We do not reach the merits of Bruce's
appeal because we dismiss for failure to comply with Rule
84.04 establishes various requirements for appellate briefs;
compliance with these requirements "is necessary 'to
ensure that appellate courts do not become advocates by
inferring facts and arguments that the appellant failed to
assert.'" Steele v. SchnuckMarkets, Inc.,
485 S.W.3d 823, 824 (Mo. App. E.D. 2016) (quoting
Rockwell v. Wong, 415 S.W.3d 805, 805-06 (Mo. App.
E.D. 2013)). "An appellant's failure to
substantially comply with Rule 84.04 'preserves nothing
for our review and is grounds for dismissing the
appeal.'" Wong v. Wong, 391 S.W.3d 917, 918
(Mo. App. E.D. 2013) (quoting City of Perryville v.
Brewer, 376 S.W.3d 691, 694 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012)).
se appellants are held to the same standards as
attorneys regarding the mandatory appellate briefing rules
set forth by Rule 84.04. Scott v. Potter Elec. Signal
Co., 310 S.W.3d 311, 312 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010). In order
to maintain and uphold judicial impartiality, judicial
economy, and fairness to all parties, this Court may not
grant pro se appellants preferential treatment in
regards to their compliance with procedural rules. Davis
v. Long, 391 S.W.3d 532, 532 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013).
Requiring all litigants to comply with procedural rules, such
as Rule 84.04, ensures that courts avoid acting as advocates
for any party. Porter v. Div. of Employment Sec, 310
S.W.3d295, 296 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010).
present case, we dismiss Bruce's appeal because his
amended appellant's brief ("Amended Brief) does not
substantially comply with Rule 84.04. After Bruce filed his
initial appellant's brief, this Court issued an order
explaining that his brief did not comply with Rule 84.04 and
granted him additional time to file an amended brief that did
comply. Even though we issued our order explaining in detail
how his original brief was non-compliant with Rule 84.04,
Bruce has failed to file a sufficient brief correcting those
deficiencies. Specifically, Bruce's Amended Brief does
not contain "a fair and concise statement of the facts
relevant to the questions presented for determination without
argument, " as is required by Rule 84.04(c), and
presents no legal arguments for reversal and contains no
citations to legal authorities (besides general references to
the U.S. Constitution), as are required by Rule 84.04(e).
Amended Brief contains a "Statement of Facts"
section, but that section consists solely of one paragraph
and provides only a very limited procedural background of the
case. Notably, the Amended Brief is missing any and all
explanation of the facts leading to Bruce's filing of his
petition. In his "Argument" section, Bruce attempts
to direct us to parts of the legal file that contain the
facts of this case, stating that the "complaint and its
exhibits recite the facts of this travesty" and that the
"[a]nswer is also a good summary of the facts and legal
issues. The "statement of facts" in Bruce's
Amended Brief falls woefully short of what Rule 84.04(c)
specifically requires: a statement of the facts that
"define[s] the scope of the controversy."
Wong, 391 S.W.3d at 919; Rule 84.04(c). Bruce fails
to actually detail even the basic circumstances of this case
anywhere in his Amended Brief, including in the
"Statement of Facts" section where a fair and
concise statement of the relevant facts should be. The
absence of a factual explanation, such as when Bruce received
notice that the house on the property was to be demolished,
what actions, if any, Bruce took upon receipt of the notice,
or any detail of the City's administrative decision to
demolish the house, make it difficult, if not impossible, for
this Court to effectively analyze Bruce's claims on
appeal. As Bruce's Amended Brief fails to supply a
necessary factual background, it does not fulfill the primary
purpose of Rule 84.04(c): to provide us "an immediate,
accurate, complete and unbiased understanding of the facts of
the case." Green v. Shiver decker, 514 S.W.3d
41, 43 (Mo. App. W.D. 2017). Failure to provide a fair and
concise statement of the facts that complies with Rule
84.04(c) alone is a basis for an appeal to be dismissed.
Duncan-Anderson v. Duncan, 321 S.W.3d 498, 499 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2010).
Amended Brief also fails to comply with Rule 84.04(e), as it
is lacking any legal argument supporting reversal and any
legal precedent supporting Bruce's claim that his
constitutional rights were violated. An
"[a]ppellant's argument should demonstrate how
principles of law and the facts of the case interact."
Scott, 310 S.W.3d at 312. In the
"Argument" section of Bruce's Amended Brief,
Bruce states that his Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment
constitutional rights were violated, but does not offer legal
arguments or provide any legal authority to support his
claim. Rather, Bruce largely makes general statements that
his rights were violated without asserting how legal
precedent specifically applies to the facts of his case. For
example, Bruce states that the City's "grounds [for
dismissal] were frivolous" and that the trial court
"engaged in gross misconduct, " but does not offer
any legal arguments or precedent to support these
contentions, nor even substantively explain why these
statements are true. As the Amended Brief presents no legal
arguments for reversal, is completely devoid of any reference
to a legal authority other than the U.S. Constitution, and
does not develop Bruce's point on appeal beyond
conclusory statements, it does not comply with Rule 84.04(e).
See Duncan v. Duncan, 320 S.W.3d 725, 727 (Mo. App.
E.D. 2010) (stating "[i]f a party does not support her
arguments with relevant authority or present arguments beyond
conclusory statements, the point is deemed abandoned").
result of Bruce's failure to comply with the mandatory
appellate briefing standards of Rule 84.04, we are unable to
ascertain the relevant facts of this case or what Bruce is
actually claiming. We do not dismiss because we lack
jurisdiction to hear the appeal, as the City argues. We
dismiss Bruce's appeal because of his failure to file an
appellant's brief that complies with Rule 84.04-even
after this Court issued a detailed order explaining how his
initial brief was non-compliant. Bruce's failure to
comply with Rule 84.04 is so substantial that any review this
Court would conduct would require us to speculate about the
facts and the arguments that he is attempting to advance in
his brief, and would place us in the untenable position of
acting as Bruce's advocate. See Steele, 485
S.W.3d at 824.
Bruce's Amended Brief does not substantially comply with
Rule 84.04, nothing is preserved for our review. See
Wong, 391 S.W.3d at 918. The appeal is dismissed.
Hoff, J, concurs.