Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CAMDEN COUNTY Honorable Peggy D.
and Deborah Steiner ("Appellants"), proceeding
pro se, attempt to appeal a judgment entered against
them in favor of Tan-Tar-A Estates, L.L.C.
("Respondent"). Because Appellants' failure to
comply with the mandatory briefing requirements of Rule
84.04 materially impedes impartial review, we
must dismiss the appeal.
filed a declaratory judgment action against Appellants,
seeking a declaration that Respondent was the owner of
certain improvements to real property located on Tan-Tar-A
Estates Lot #310, Osage Beach, Camden County, Missouri
("the Property"). The trial court granted
Respondent's motion for summary judgment and entered a
judgment that declared Respondent the owner of the
improvements ("the judgment").
se litigants are required to follow the same appellate
rules as parties represented by lawyers. Reliable
Roofing, LLC v. Jones, 302 S.W.3d 232, 234 (Mo. App.
S.D. 2009). While we recognize the challenges facing pro
se litigants, we cannot bend those rules to benefit
non-lawyers. Id. As our Supreme Court stated in
Thummel v. King, 570 S.W.2d 679, 686 (Mo.
It is not the function of the appellate court to serve as
advocate for any party to an appeal. . . . When counsel fail
in their duty by filing briefs which are not in conformity
with the applicable rules and do not sufficiently advise the
court of the contentions asserted and the merit thereof, the
court is left with the dilemma of deciding that case (and
possibly establishing precedent for future cases) on the
basis of inadequate briefing and advocacy or undertaking
additional research and briefing to supply the deficiency.
Courts should not be asked or expected to assume such a role.
requirement of neutrality also prevents us from becoming an
advocate on behalf of parties not represented by counsel.
appeal, the following deficiencies materially impede
• The Statement of Facts violates Rule 84.04(c), which
requires a fair and concise statement of the facts relevant
to the questions presented for determination without argument
and with specific page references to the relevant portions of
the record on appeal. Appellants' brief meets neither of
these requirements. Their two-page statement of facts
contains no record citations and recites a purported
procedural history that fails to include any facts relevant
to the issues on appeal. Standing alone, a violation of Rule
84.04(c) constitutes grounds for dismissal of an appeal.
Washington v. Blackburn, 286 S.W.3d 818, 820 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2009).
• Points Relied On serve the "threshold function of
giving notice to the party opponent of the precise matters
which must be contended with and answered."
Thummel, 570 S.W.2d at 686. Here, all of
Appellants' points violate Rule 84.04(d)(1) because they fail
to state the legal reasons for the claim of reversible error
and to explain why, in the context of the case, those legal
reasons support the claim of reversible error.
Washington, 286 S.W.3d at 821 (a point relied on
that does not comply with the Rule preserves nothing for
• Appellants' argument section fails to comply with
Rule 84.04(e), which requires an appellant to state the
standard of review and support factual assertions with
specific page references to the relevant portion of the
record on appeal. The argument section must also explain why,
in the context of the case, the law supports the claim of
reversible error. Id. Here, Appellants'
three-page argument meets none of these requirements. It does
not: (1) provide the governing standard of review for summary
judgments; (2) follow the points relied on; or (3) provide
any references to the record on appeal.
• Rule 84.04(h) requires a party's brief to be
accompanied by an appendix that contains, as relevant here:
(1) the judgment, order, or decision in question; and (2) the
complete text of all statutes claimed to be controlling in
resolving a point ...