Assigned on Briefs February 2, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Rutherford County No. 70300 J.
Mark Rogers, Judge
case originated when the plaintiff filed an action against
the defendant process server, alleging that the defendant
failed to accomplish service within the specified time
period. The plaintiff's action was dismissed by the trial
court due to the plaintiff's failure to present
sufficient evidence to prove her case at trial. The plaintiff
timely appealed. Because the plaintiff has failed to comply
with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27 and Tennessee
Court of Appeals Rule 6, we dismiss this appeal.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed
Alshinnawi, Roswell, Georgia, Pro Se.
R. Howard, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Judy
R. Frierson, II, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Richard H. Dinkins, J., and J. Steven Stafford, P.J.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
R. FRIERSON, II, JUDGE
plaintiff, Hiam Alshinnawi, filed a civil warrant in the
Rutherford County General Sessions Court ("General
Sessions Court") against the defendant, Judy Denry,
alleging that Ms. Denry failed to accomplish service of
process upon an individual after receiving payment to do so.
The General Sessions Court issued summons to Ms. Denry to
appear on June 23, 2015. The record is sparse and contains no
court order from the June 23, 2015 trial date. A letter from
Ms. Alshinnawi appears in the record, reflecting that she had
attempted to change the court date, failed to appear in court
on June 23, 2015, and had her case dismissed by the General
Sessions Court. Thereafter, Ms. Alshinnawi filed a blank form
"Motion, " with no actual pleading included, with
the General Sessions Court, which was "denied w[ith]
prejudice" on September 11, 2015.
Alshinnawi appealed to the Rutherford County Circuit Court
("trial court"). The trial court, reviewing the
matter de novo, conducted a trial on November 5,
2015. The trial court ultimately ruled in favor of Ms. Denry,
finding that "[Ms. Alshinnawi] failed to meet her burden
of proof" and that the matter should be
dismissed. Ms. Alshinnawi timely appealed to this
appellate brief, Ms. Alshinnawi initially filed a document
resembling a letter directed to this Court. Ms. Alshinnawi
informed the clerk of this Court that the letter should be
treated as her appellate brief. On August 19, 2016, upon
determining this document to be noncompliant with Tennessee
Rule of Appellate Procedure 27, this Court ordered that the
document be stricken and afforded Ms. Alshinnawi an
additional fourteen days within which to file an appellate
brief that substantially complied with Tennessee Rule of
Appellate Procedure 27. In its order, this Court informed Ms.
Alshinnawi that "[a]ny facts asserted in the brief shall
be supported by appropriate citations to the record on
appeal" and that this Court "will not consider any
facts not supported by the record on appeal." Ms.
Alshinnawi subsequently filed a motion for an extension of
time to file her appellate brief, which was granted. The time
to file an appellate brief was extended to October 3, 2016.
Ms. Alshinnawi filed a second motion for extension of time to
file her appellate brief, and this Court granted Ms.
Alshinnawi an additional fourteen days in which to file her
appellate brief. On October 17, 2016, Ms. Alshinnawi filed
her appellate brief with this Court. Ms. Denry did not file a
responsive brief in this matter.
recognize that Ms. Alshinnawi is a pro se litigant
and respect her decision to proceed self-represented. With
regard to self-represented litigants, this Court has
Pro se litigants who invoke the complex and
sometimes technical procedures of the courts assume a very
heavy burden. Gray v. Stillman White Co., 522 A.2d
737, 741 (R.I. 1987). Conducting a trial with a pro
se litigant who is unschooled in the intricacies of
evidence and trial practice can be difficult. Oko v.
Rogers, 125 Ill.App.3d 720, 81 Ill.Dec. 72, 75, 466
N.E.2d 658, 661 (1984). Nonetheless, trial courts are
expected to appreciate and be understanding of the
difficulties encountered by a party who is embarking into the
maze of the judicial process with no experience or formal
Irvin v. City of Clarksville, 767 S.W.2d 649, 652
(Tenn. Ct. App. 1988). Parties proceeding without benefit of
counsel are "entitled to fair and equal treatment by the
courts, " but we "must not excuse pro se litigants
from complying with the same substantive and procedural rules
that represented parties are expected to observe."
Hessmer v. Hessmer, 138 S.W.3d 901, 903 (Tenn. Ct.
App. 2003). This Court must "be mindful of the boundary
between fairness to a pro se litigant and unfairness to the