Appeal from the Probate Court No. 4 Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 428851-401
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Keyes and
Michael Massengale Justice
Alvin Sandles appeals from a take-nothing judgment entered
against him in favor of appellees Effie Sandles and Reginald
Archie.[*] Alvin filed suit against the appellees
claiming ownership to real property and seeking to quiet
title to it. At the conclusion of Alvin's case-in-chief,
the appellees moved for a directed verdict on the claims
against them. The trial court granted the motion and entered
judgment against Alvin.
Alvin has failed to adequately brief issues on appeal
contending that the trial court erred by granting the
appellees' motion for directed verdict and by excluding
evidence, we affirm.
Sandles filed a quiet-title action against his aunt, Effie
Sandles, and his cousin, Reginald Archie, who is the son of
Alvin's deceased aunt (and Effie's deceased sister),
Rachel Archie. The dispute concerns a parcel of residential
real property located in Harris County, Texas. Alvin claimed
ownership of the property as the heir of his deceased father,
and he alleged that Effie and Reginald had no ownership
interests in the property. Alvin attached several exhibits to
his petition, including a 1956 deed in which his parents
conveyed the property to Effie. Alvin also attached an
affidavit of heirship in which Rachel claimed an ownership
interest in the property. Alvin asserted that his
mother's signature on the 1956 deed was forged and that
Rachel's affidavit contained fraudulent information.
to trial, Alvin filed a document with the court entitled
"Motion: Introduction and Request For Admission of
Documentary Evidence." This document contained a report
from a handwriting expert. In the report, the expert stated
that she had reviewed several "purported"
signatures of Alvin's mother and concluded that the
signatures did not match the signature found on the 1956 deed
conveying the property to Effie.
a bench trial, Alvin called several witnesses to testify
about the property and who was supposed to inherit it after
his father's death. Alvin also testified on his own
behalf. During his testimony, he offered into evidence the
handwriting expert's report about the purported signature
of Alvin's mother on the deed to Effie. The appellees
objected to the admission of the report on several grounds,
including hearsay. Alvin argued that the report was
admissible because it fell under the business- and
public-records exceptions to the hearsay rule. The trial
court sustained the appellees' objections and excluded
the report. Although the trial court did not admit the
report, it did admit, as a defense exhibit, the 1956 deed in
which Alvin's parents conveyed the property to Effie.
close of Alvin's case-in-chief, the appellees moved for a
directed verdict on the quiet-title claims, contending that
he had produced no evidence to support his cause of action.
The trial court granted the motion, finding that Alvin had
failed to produce evidence demonstrating he had an ownership
interest in the property. The court also found that he had
produced no evidence to demonstrate that the appellees'
claim to the property was invalid.
court entered a take-nothing judgment against Alvin and in
favor of Effie and Reginald. Alvin appealed.
did in the trial court, Alvin is representing himself on
appeal. Although we liberally construe pro se pleadings and
briefs, we nonetheless require self-represented litigants to
comply with applicable laws and rules of procedure. See
Wheeler v. Green, 157 S.W.3d 439, 444 (Tex. 2005)
("pro se litigants are not exempt from the rules of
procedure"); Mansfield State Bank v. Cohn, 573
S.W.2d 181, 184-85 (Tex. 1978). "Having two sets of
rules-a strict set for attorneys and a lenient set for pro se
parties-might encourage litigants to discard their valuable
right to the advice and assistance of counsel."
Wheeler, 157 S.W.3d at 444. "Litigants who
represent themselves must comply with the applicable
procedural rules, or else they would be given an unfair
advantage over litigants represented by counsel."
Mansfield State Bank, 573 S.W.2d at 185.
his brief liberally, the issues presented by Alvin lack
merit. He contends that the trial court erred in two ways: by
granting the appellees' motion for directed verdict and
by excluding the handwriting expert's report. The
remainder of Alvin's brief, however, provides no
substantive legal analysis of ...