Appellate Briefing, Points on Appeal

Appeals are technically and substantively complicated. With appeals, there is more of an emphasis on what the law is, whereas a trial court is often more focused on what factually occurred. The factual determinations made in the trial court are almost always binding on appeal. The legal effect of those facts are what is disputed on appeal.

Rule 84.04 governs appellate briefs in Missouri. “Rule 84.04’s requirements are mandatory.” Fowler v. Mo. Sheriffs’ Ret. Sys., 623 S.W.3d 578, 583 (Mo. 2021). The Court prefers to hear cases on the merits. Technical deficiencies will usually be ignored. But it will strike or disregard briefs which are ““so deficient that it fails to give notice to this Court and to the other parties as to the issue presented on appeal.” J.A.D. v. F.J.D., 978 S.W.2d 336, 338 (Mo. 1998). So, there are a significant number of cases involving appeals dismissed for deficient briefing. At the same time, appellate courts have “discretion to review non-compliant briefs [gratuitously] where the argument is readily understandable. Null v. New Haven Care Ctr., Inc., 425 S.W.3d 172, 177-78 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014).

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