Thursday, September 8, 2016

Failure to File a Brief

One issue I keep seeing come up in appellate cases in Mississippi is the failure to file a brief.  In Rogillio v. Rogillio, 101 So. 3d 150, 153 (¶12) (Miss. 2012), the Mississippi Supreme Court explained:

[F]ailure of an appellee to file a brief is tantamount to confession of error and will be accepted as such unless the reviewing court can say with confidence, after considering the record and brief of [the] appealing party, that there was no error.  Automatic reversal is not required where the appellee fails to file a brief.  However, the appellant’s argument should at least create enough doubt in the judiciousness of the trial court’s judgment that this Court cannot say with confidence that the case should be affirmed. 

(Internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Furthermore:
When matters on appeal touch the welfare of a minor child, then regardless of whether a party filed a brief, this Court will reach the merits of the issues in this appeal, though we proceed unaided by a brief from the appellee . . . .  If the record is large or complicated and [the appellant] thoroughly briefed the issues, provided applicable citations of authority, and presented an apparent case of error, then we should consider [the appellee’s] failure to file a brief as his confession of error and reverse the chancellor’s judgment.  But if the record can be conveniently examined, and the record reveals a sound and unmistakable basis or ground upon which the judgment may be safely affirmed, then we should disregard the fact that [the appellee] failed to file a brief.

Roberts v. Roberts, 110 So. 3d 820, 825 (¶¶10-11) (Miss. Ct. App. 2013) (internal citations
and quotation marks omitted).

An Appellant's brief is normally what is more costly to prepare just due to the search for error by the trial court along with supporting authority.  With an Appellee's brief though particularly in an appeal from the chancery court, the cost is relatively low based upon the standard of review. 

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