Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Washington County Cause No.
17WA-CC00327 Honorable Stanley D. Williams
P. Page, Judge.
Campbell and Catrenia Dawn Campbell (the
"Campbells") appeal the trial court's judgment
of dismissal of their second amended petition with prejudice.
The Campbells raise five points on appeal. However, their
brief substantially fails to comply with the mandatory
requirements of Missouri Supreme Court Rule 84.04;
therefore, it preserves nothing for our review. We dismiss
Campbells appeal pro se. Rule 84.04 sets forth the
mandatory briefing requirements for all appellants.
Compliance is necessary "to ensure that appellate courts
do not become advocates by speculating on facts and on
arguments that have not been made." Callahan v.
Precythe, 577 S.W.3d 159, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019).
Judicial impartiality, judicial economy, and fairness to all
parties necessitates that we do not grant preferential
treatment to pro se litigants who are held to the
same standard as attorneys when they elect to represent
themselves. A.C.C. v. S.B., 568 S.W.3d 895, 896 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2019). While our court has the discretion to review
non-compliant briefs ex gratia, we must dismiss the
appeal if the deficiencies in the appellant's brief are
such that no claims are preserved for appellate review.
Smith v. City of St. Louis, 573 S.W.3d 705, 711 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2019). The Campbells' brief exemplifies such
deficiencies by extensively violating Rule 84.04. Our court
cannot essentially become the Campbells' advocate and
"reconstruct the facts of the case, speculate about the
possible claims of error, and craft an argument on [the
Campbells'] behalf" in order to address the merits
of their appeal. Porter v. Div. of Employment Sec.,
310 S.W.3d 295, 297 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010).
Rule 84.04(e) requires an appellant to "include a
concise statement describing whether the error was preserved
for appellate review; if so, how it was preserved; and the
applicable standard of review," which must be set out
under "each claim of error." The Campbells fail to
set forth an appropriate standard of review for any of their
multiple points on appeal.
Rule 84.04 (c) requires an appellant's brief to include a
"fair and concise statement of the facts relevant to the
questions presented for determination without argument."
It is the duty of the parties-not this court-to search the
transcript or record to discover the facts which substantiate
a point on appeal. Midtown Home Improvements, Inc. v.
Taylor, 578 S.W.3d 793, 797 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019). The
Campbells fail to define the scope of the controversy and
afford our court an "immediate, accurate, complete, and
unbiased understanding of the facts of the case."
Stickley v. Auto Credit, Inc., 53 S.W.3d 560, 562
(Mo. App. W.D. 2001). Instead, they provide individual
subheadings with general assertions and abstract statements
of law, without clearly detailing the factual circumstances
essential to resolve the claims they raise on appeal.
the Campbells' "Points Relied On" fail to
comply with Rule 84.04(d)(1). While some of the "Points
Relied On" include one claim of error, others are
multifarious as they group together "multiple,
independent claims, of error rather than a single claim of
error." Librach v. Librach, 575 S.W.3d 300, 307
(Mo. App. E.D. 2019). "Multifarious points relied on are
noncompliant with Rule 84.04(d) and preserve nothing for
review." Id. (quoting Griffitts v. Old
Republic Insurance Company, 550 S.W.3d 474, 478 n.6 (Mo.
banc 2018)). However, all the points asserted by the
Campbells' fail to satisfy the minimum requirements of
this rule. Not only are they are confusing, but they do not
briefly or concisely specify the legal reasons for trial
court error nor explain how those legal reasons support their
claim of reversible error. See Rule 84.04(d).
and most importantly, the Campbells' brief violates Rule
84.04 (e) because it fails to actually discuss the
"Points Relied On" and present a legal argument. To
develop a point relied on, the argument section of an
appellate brief "should show how the principles of law
and the facts of the case interact." Kim v.
Kim, 431 S.W.3d 524, 526 (Mo. App. W.D. 2014) (quoting
Carroll v. AAA Bail Bonds, 6 S.W.3d 215, 218 (Mo.
App. S.D. 1999)). The Campbells present "bare
conclusions without linking those conclusions to specific
evidence and without providing any rationale supporting the
conclusions." Carlisle v. Rainbow Connection,
Inc., 300 S.W.3d 583, 586 (Mo. App. E.D. 2009). While
their argument presents case law and details regarding the
underlying claims, the Campbells fail to make any sense to
their arguments by comparing the facts, applying the legal
principles of those cases to this case, and to effectively
"explain why, in the context of the case, the law
supports the claim of reversible error." Hamilton v.
Archer, 545 S.W.3d 377, 380 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018);
see also Hiner v. Hiner, 573 S.W.3d 732, 736 (Mo.
App. W.D. 2019). Our court cannot just attempt a good guess
at the parameters of the Campbells' legal arguments.
Appellate courts should not be asked to do so because
"[t]he function of the appellate court is to examine
asserted trial-court error, not to serve as advocate for any
party on appeal." Kramer v. Park-Et Rest.,
Inc., 226 S.W.3d 867, 870 (Mo. App. E.D. 2007) (citing
Weisenburger v. City of St. Joseph, 51 S.W.3d 119,
125 (Mo. App. W.D. 2001)).
absolute failure to comply with Rule 84.04 is such that it
precludes our ability to address the merits of the
Campbells' claims-even ex gratia-and preserves
nothing for our review. Thus, their appeal is dismissed.
M. Hess, P.J. and Kurt S. Odenwald, J., concur.