Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF MERCER COUNTY The Honorable Samuel
D. Frank, Judge
Before: Victor C. Howard, Presiding Judge, Lisa White
Hardwick and Gary D. Witt, Judges
White Hardwick, Judge
Hoover ("Husband") appeals from the judgment
dissolving his marriage to Lynda Hoover ("Wife").
Because of significant deficiencies in Husband's
appellate brief that prevent us from determining what his
actual claims of circuit court error are, we dismiss his
appears pro se. We struck his initial brief for
multiple specific violations of Rule 84.04. Husband filed an
amended brief that was substantially similar to the stricken
brief. Wife subsequently filed a motion to dismiss
Husband's appeal due to the deficiencies in his amended
brief. We took Wife's motion with the case.
84.04 sets forth requirements for appellate briefing.
"[C]ompliance with these requirements is mandatory in
order to ensure that appellate courts do not become advocates
by speculating on facts and on arguments that have not been
made." Lattimer v. Clark, 412 S.W.3d 420, 422
(Mo. App. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). "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. 2013) (citation
omitted). Although Husband appears pro se, he
"is subject to the same procedural rules as parties
represented by counsel, including the rules specifying the
required contents of appellate briefs."
Lattimer, 412 S.W.3d at 422 (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted).
Husband's 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." "The primary purpose of the
statement of facts is to afford an immediate, accurate,
complete and unbiased understanding of the facts of the
case." Tavacoli v. Div. of Emp't Sec., 261
S.W.3d 708, 710 (Mo. App. 2008) (citation omitted).
Husband's statement of facts is not a fair and concise
statement of the facts relevant to the questions presented.
Instead, his statement of facts contains mostly argumentative
and conclusory statements, with only sporadic references to
the legal file and transcript. These deficiencies fail to
preserve Husband's claims for appellate review. See
Lattimer, 412 S.W.3d at 422.
Husband's point relied does not comply with Rule
84.04(d). His multifarious point consists of a
two-and-one-half page statement containing bare allegations
of approximately eight disparate errors. "When an
appellant makes the entire judgment one error and then lists
multiple grounds therefore, the point contains multiple legal
issues in violation of Rule 84.04(d)." Smith v.
Smith, 455 S.W.3d 26, 27 (Mo. App. 2014).
"Multifarious points preserve nothing for review."
Id. (citation omitted). Additionally, Husband's
point relied on does not include a list of cases or other
authority upon which he is principally relying, in violation
of Rule 84.04(d)(5).
Husband's argument fails to comply with Rule 84.04(e).
His argument consists of only a relisting of the eight
disparate errors alleged in his point relied on and cites to
no legal authority. "An argument must explain why, in
the context of the case, the law supports the claim of
reversible error." Washington v. Blackburn, 286
S.W.3d 818, 821 (Mo. App. 2009). The argument
"'should show how principles of law and the facts of
the case interact.'" Id. (citation
omitted). Husband's argument does not. Moreover,
Husband's argument does not include a concise statement
of the applicable standard of review for each claim of error;
a concise statement describing whether the error was
preserved for appellate review and, if so, how it was
preserved; and specific page references to the legal file or
transcript. The argument section of Husband's brief is
"'so defective as to require us and opposing counsel
to hypothesize about the appellant's argument and
precedential support for that argument[.]'"
Nichols v. Div. of Emp't Sec., 399 S.W.3d 901,
904 (Mo. App. 2013) (citation omitted). Therefore, we cannot
reach the merits of his appeal. Id.
we will review non-compliant briefs of pro se
appellants ex gratia. Id. We do so, however, only
"where the argument is readily understandable."
Id. That is not the case here. To determine whether
Husband is entitled to relief, we would have "to comb
the record for support for [his] factual assertions, decipher
[his] point on appeal, and locate legal authority for [his]
argument." Wong, 391 S.W.3d at 919-20. In other
words, we would have to act as Husband's advocate, which
we cannot do. Id.