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Saleh v. Dorvin D. Leis Co. of Texas, LLC

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

June 26, 2017

FAISEL SALEH, Appellant
v.
DORVIN D. LEIS COMPANY OF TEXAS, LLC, H. GRADY CHANDLER, ANDGREGORY D. HARPER, Appellees

         On Appeal from the 68th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-16-13596

          Before Justices Bridges, Lang-Miers, and Evans

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH LANG-MIERS JUSTICE

         Faisel Saleh appeals the trial court's judgment dismissing with prejudice his case pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 91a. We dismiss the appeal.

         Appellant sued Appellees alleging a conspiracy against appellant and a breach of contract arising out of actions taken in a prior suit. After the trial court dismissed the case with prejudice in favor of appellees, appellant, representing himself, timely filed his notice of appeal with this Court and submitted a brief that did not comply with the briefing requirements set forth in the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1 (providing requirements for an appellant's brief). By letter, we notified appellant of his brief's specific deficiencies and warned him that if he failed to file an amended brief that complies with the rules within ten days, his appeal might be dismissed. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1, 42.3(b), (c). After receiving appellant's amended brief, appellees filed a "Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Comply, " contending that the amended brief is deficient in a number of ways. Because the amended brief does not comply with the long-established briefing rules, we grant appellees' motion and dismiss appellant's appeal.

         A civil litigant has the right to represent himself at trial and on appeal. Bolling v. Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist., 315 S.W.3d 893, 895 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.). The right of self-representation on appeal carries with it the duty to adhere to the rules of appellate procedure. Id. Pro se appellants are held to the same standard as licensed attorneys. See Strange v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 126 S.W.3d 676, 677 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2004, pet. denied). Our rules of appellate procedure have specific requirements for the contents of all briefs accepted by the courts. See Tex. R. App. P. 38. Among other requirements, the rules require appellants to state concisely their complaints, provide understandable, succinct, and clear argument showing why their complaints are meritorious in fact and in law, to cite and apply applicable law, and provide appropriate references to the record. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(f-i); Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895. When determining whether a particular brief is deficient, we do not adhere to rigid rules, but rather examine the brief for compliance with the rules of appellate procedure. See Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895. Only after receiving adequate briefing may we go on to review the merits of the appeal. Id. If an appellant fails to provide adequate briefing, we may dismiss the appeal. See Tex. R. App. P. 42.3; Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895-96. The Clerk of the Court notified appellant that his brief was deficient in the following ways:

• It lacked an index of authorities.
• The statement of the case and statement of facts did not contain references to the record.
• The argument did not contain appropriate citations to authorities nor did it contain appropriate citations to the record.
• It did not contain a proper certificate of compliance.
• Items were missing from the appendix.

         Even after receiving notice of the deficiencies from the Clerk and an opportunity to submit a conforming brief, appellant's amended brief remains deficient in respects identified in the Clerk's letter.

         Specifically, the amended brief lacks appropriate citations to the record in the statement of the case, the statement of facts, and the argument. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(d), (g), (i). Appellant's amended brief presents only long sweeping narratives with an occasional reference to a document or to the complete record of his case. At no point does appellant pinpoint any particular page reference in the clerk's record where support for his factual assertions can be found. It is not the duty of the Court to comb through the record for facts favorable to appellant's position. See Fredonia State Bank v. Gen. Am. Life Ins. Co., 881 S.W.2d 279, 283- 84 (Tex. 1994); Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895.

         Additionally, the argument section of the amended brief does not contain appropriate citations to authority. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(i). The amended brief cites only to one authority, dealing with the elements of a contract, and the sole authority is cited only in the statement of facts and briefly summarized in a page of the appendix. There are no citations to authority in the argument section of the brief. The Court is not responsible for finding the legal authorities to support appellant's contentions. See Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895. To provide appellant ...


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