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In re Estate of Bush

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

November 1, 2019

IN RE ESTATE OF J D BUSH

          Assigned on Briefs October 1, 2019

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Knox County No. 67241-1 John F. Weaver, Chancellor

         Due to the deficiencies in Appellant's brief, we conclude that he waived consideration of all issues on appeal and hereby dismiss the appeal.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed

          Thomas K. Bush, Atlanta, Georgia, appellant, pro se.

          Robert William Godwin, John R. Bush, and Nancy Bush, Knoxville, Tennessee, appellees, pro se.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.

         Appellant Thomas K. Bush appeals the trial court's order closing his father, J. D. Bush's ("Decedent"), estate. Decedent's estate was opened on March 12, 2008. Since that time, Appellant has maintained that his brother, John R. Bush and his wife, Nancy, along with Robert W. Godwin (together with John R. Bush and Nancy Bush, "Appellees"), who prepared Decedent's will and represented the estate, have acted individually and in concert to deny Appellant his share of Decedent's alleged financial interest in Bush Brothers & Company. Throughout these proceedings, Appellees have maintained that Decedent had no Bush Brothers & Company holdings. Finding, inter alia, no evidence that Decedent had any financial interest in Bush Brothers & Company, the special master made a recommendation to close Decedent's estate. By order of November 6, 2018, the trial court adopted the special master's recommendation and closed the estate. Appellant appeals. Due to deficiencies in Appellant's brief, we are unable to review the actions of the trial court.

         We first note that Appellant is representing himself in this appeal. It is well-settled that "pro se litigants are held to the same procedural and substantive standards to which lawyers must adhere." Brown v. Christian Bros. Univ., No. W2012-01336-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 3982137, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 5, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 15, 2014). This Court has held that "[p]arties who choose to represent themselves are entitled to fair and equal treatment by the courts." Hodges v. Tenn. Att'y Gen., 43 S.W.3d 918, 920 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000); Paehler v. Union Planters Nat'l Bank, Inc., 971 S.W.2d 393, 396 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997). Nevertheless, "courts must not excuse pro se litigants from complying with the same substantive and procedural rules that represented parties are expected to observe." Young v. Barrow, 130 S.W.3d 59, 62-63 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003); Edmundson v. Pratt, 945 S.W.2d 754, 755 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1996); Kaylor v. Bradley, 912 S.W.2d 728, 733 n.4 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1995).

         Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27(a) mandates that "[t]he brief of the appellant shall contain under appropriate headings and in the order here indicated:"

(1) A table of contents, with references to the pages in the brief;
(2) A table of authorities, including cases (alphabetically arranged), statutes and other authorities cited, with references to the pages in the brief where they are cited;
(3) A jurisdictional statement in cases appealed to the Supreme Court directly from the trial court indicating briefly the jurisdictional grounds for ...

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