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In re G.B.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

June 28, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF G.B., A CHILD

         On Appeal from the 304th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. JD-98-00657

          Before Justices Bridges, Lang-Miers, and Evans

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH LANG-MIERS, JUSTICE

         L.S., appearing pro se, appeals from the trial court's order dismissing her motion to modify the parent-child relationship. Because L.S. has failed to file a brief that complies with the briefing requirements of our appellate rules, we dismiss the appeal. See Tex. Rs. App. P. 38.1, 42.3; Bolling v. Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist., 315 S.W.3d 893, 895 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.).

         BACKGROUND

         On October 7, 2015, the trial court signed a judgment terminating L.S.'s parental rights to G.B. The record does not reflect that L.S. appealed that judgment. However, in August 2016, she filed a motion to modify the parent-child relationship, seeking to be named sole managing conservator of G.B. The trial court dismissed the motion for lack of standing, noting L.S.'s rights had previously been terminated.

         L.S. timely appealed and filed her brief. The brief did not reference the dismissal order, state the facts as reflected in the record, or identify and analyze any error in the trial court's dismissal order. Instead, it claimed that L.S. should be given "a chance to be a mother again" and described L.S.'s difficult past and the steps she had taken to improve her situation.

         Because the brief did not comply with the rules of appellate procedure, we notified L.S. the brief was deficient and instructed her to file an amended brief correcting deficiencies we identified. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1. In our notice, we cautioned L.S. that failure to comply could result in dismissal of the appeal without further notice. See id. 38.8(a)(1), 42.3(b), (c). L.S. filed an amended brief, again claiming she should be given "a chance" with G.B. but failing to correct the deficiencies in her original brief.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         The purpose of a brief is to acquaint the reviewing court with the facts and issues of the case and provide the court with supporting argument and authority so that it may decide the merits of the case. See id. 38.1(f)-(i); Butler v. Hide-a-Way Lake Club, Inc., 730 S.W.2d 405, 409 (Tex. App.-Eastland 1987, writ ref'd n.r.e.) (quoting former Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 74(p), the predecessor to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 38). To ensure a brief accomplishes its purpose, the rules of appellate procedure list specific requirements a brief must contain. See Tex. R. App. P. 38. Among the requirements for an appellant's brief are a concise statement of the pertinent facts, a statement of the complaints presented for review, and a succinct and clear argument for the contentions made with appropriate citations to the record and authorities. See id. 38.1(f)-(i).

         Although a reviewing court construes the briefing rules liberally, a brief fails if it does not describe the judgment or order being appealed, does not state why the trial court erred in rendering the judgment or order, does not contain appropriate citations to the record of facts that may be favorable to the appellant's position, or does not cite or analyze legal authorities in support of the contentions raised. See id. 38.9; Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895; Santillan v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., 166 S.W.3d 823, 824 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2005, no pet.). This is true even if the appellant is pro se and untrained in law. See Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895 (a party to civil litigation has the right to represent himself, or appear pro se, at trial or appeal, but that right "carries with it the responsibility to adhere to our rules of evidence and procedure"). If a brief fails to comply with the appellate rules, we are authorized to dismiss the appeal. See id. at 895-96 (citing Tex.R.App.P. 42.3).

         DISCUSSION

         As stated, L.S.'s claim on appeal is that she should be given "a chance" with G.B. She does not mention in the amended brief the dismissal order, state why the trial court erred in dismissing the motion to modify, cite to the record, or provide citations to or analysis of legal authorities that would show the court erred in dismissing the motion. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1(f)-(i); Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 896; Santillan, 166 S.W.3d at 824. A brief that does not attack the merits of the appealed judgment or cite and analyze legal authorities supporting the alleged error is deficient. See Canton-Carter v. Baylor Coll. of Med., 271 S.W.3d 928, 931 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, no pet.) (concluding brief failed to meet briefing requirements where issues did "not point out any error allegedly committed by the trial court or even attack the merits of the trial court's . . . judgment" and did ...


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