St. Louis Cnty. v. Shanklin, No. ED 108623

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtAngela T. Quigless, P.J.
Citation616 S.W.3d 423
Parties ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Respondent, v. Janet SHANKLIN, Appellant.
Decision Date17 November 2020
Docket NumberNo. ED 108623

616 S.W.3d 423

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Respondent,
v.
Janet SHANKLIN, Appellant.

No. ED 108623

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, DIVISION THREE.

Filed: November 17, 2020
Application for Transfer Denied March 2, 2021


Janet Shanklin (Acting Pro Se), 4360 Keevenshore Drive, Florissant, MO. 63034, for appellant.

Monique D. McNutt, 41 South Clayton Ave, Clayton, MO. 63105, for respondent.

Angela T. Quigless, P.J.

The defendant, Janet Shanklin, appeals pro se the judgment and sentence entered by the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Municipal Division, following her conviction by a jury of three counts of violation of orders of protection and one count of harassment. The trial court sentenced Shanklin to 14 days of confinement each on counts II and III, to be served consecutively in the county jail. On counts IV and V, the court sentenced Shanklin to 14 days of confinement with execution suspended and two years of probation for each. Shanklin challenges her conviction on numerous bases. Her failure to comply with the appellate briefing standards of Missouri Supreme Court Rule 84.04 is so substantial, however, that her brief preserves nothing for our review.1 Therefore, we dismiss the appeal.

Factual and Procedural Background

The charges against Shanklin arose from incidents involving her next-door neighbor that occurred from July 15, 2013 through December 20, 2016. The neighbor obtained multiple orders of protection against Shanklin, and police were called over 300 times to investigate complaints against her.

St. Louis County charged Shanklin with 28 violations of county ordinances. The trial court joined five charges and confined the trial to the following: (1) count I, violation of orders of protection, which involved the display of a firearm on July 15, 2013; (2) count II, harassment, occurring on April 10, 2016; (3) count III, violation of orders of protection on November 11, 2016, which involved Shanklin "stalking" the neighbor, as he described it, and talking and singing at him; (4) count IV, violation of orders of protection, which involved the presence of floodlights on Shanklin's property shining into her neighbor's house on November 28, 2016; and (5) count V, violation of orders of protection, which involved the presence of floodlights on Shanklin's property shining into her neighbor's house on December 20, 2016. A series of attorneys, both paid and appointed, represented Shanklin, including the appointed

616 S.W.3d 426

counsel who represented her at trial.

Shanklin testified on her own behalf. She acknowledged that she knew of each order of protection against her, and that she had floodlights on her property in violation of the orders. The jury acquitted Shanklin on count I, which involved the display of a firearm, and convicted her on the other four charges, namely three counts of violation of protective orders and one count of harassment.

The trial court sentenced Shanklin to 14 days of confinement in the county jail on count II and on count III, to be served consecutively, and to 14 days of confinement in the county jail with execution suspended and two years of probation on count IV and on count V. Shanklin appeals.

Discussion

Shanklin presents twelve points on appeal. Her failure to comply with the appellate briefing standards of Missouri Supreme Court Rule 84.04 is so substantial, however, that her brief preserves nothing for our review.

For appeals of criminal cases, Rule 30.06(a) provides that "[t]he form and contents of the briefs shall contain the material prescribed by Rule 84.04 and Rule 84.06." Rule 84.04 sets forth the requirements for all briefs filed in this Court. State v. Bell , 266 S.W.3d 287, 288 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008). When, as here, an appellant appears pro se in an appeal, she is still generally held to the same standard as a licensed attorney, and so she must substantially comply with the requirements of Rule 84.04. City of St. Louis v. Hill , 488 S.W.3d 156, 159 (Mo. App. E.D. 2016). Compliance with Rule 84.04 is mandatory to ensure that appellate courts do not become advocates by speculating on facts and arguments that have not been asserted. Campbell v. Woodland Lakes Trusteeship, Inc. , 591 S.W.3d 511, 512 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019). We prefer to decide cases on the merits when possible, and we will do so as long as we can ascertain the gist of an appellant's arguments, notwithstanding minor shortcomings in briefing. Unifund CCR Partners v. Myers , 563 S.W.3d 740, 743 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018). "However, if the brief is so deficient that we cannot competently rule on the merits without first reconstructing the facts and supplementing the appellant's legal arguments, then nothing is preserved for review and we must dismiss the appeal." Id.

Rule 84.04(a) states that an appellant's brief shall contain:

(1) A detailed table of contents, with page references, and a table of cases (alphabetically arranged), statutes, and other authorities cited, with reference to the pages of the brief where they are cited;

(2) A concise statement of the grounds on which jurisdiction of the review court is invoked;

(3) A statement of facts;

(4) The points relied on;

(5) An argument, which shall substantially follow the order of the points relied on; and

(6) A short conclusion stating the precise relief sought.

Rule 84.04(b) through (i) further details what each of these requirements should include. Bell , 266 S.W.3d at 289.

Shanklin's brief violates Rule 84.04 in multiple respects, leaving nothing for appellate review. In re Estate of Hanks , 589 S.W.3d 604, 606 (Mo. App. E.D. 2019). Although we are mindful of the challenges that pro se litigants face, judicial impartiality, judicial economy, and fairness to all parties dictate that we do not grant pro se appellants preferential treatment regarding

616 S.W.3d 427

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1 practice notes
  • State v. Higgs, WD84161
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...only the record made before the trial court, and we cannot consider evidence extraneous to the record." St. Louis Cty. v. Shanklin, 616 S.W.3d 423, 429 (Mo. App. E.D. 2020). [8] It may be arguable that Higgs was subject to detention a moment earlier, when Officer Popielarz asked Higgs where......
1 cases
  • State v. Higgs, WD84161
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 3, 2022
    ...only the record made before the trial court, and we cannot consider evidence extraneous to the record." St. Louis Cty. v. Shanklin, 616 S.W.3d 423, 429 (Mo. App. E.D. 2020). [8] It may be arguable that Higgs was subject to detention a moment earlier, when Officer Popielarz asked Higgs where......

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