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Thomas v. Millen

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 19, 2019

JONATHAN M. THOMAS
v.
KEVIN MILLEN

          Session November 13, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-002537-18 James F. Russell, Judge

         Tenant appeals the dismissal of his appeal from general sessions court for failure to post a bond constituting one year's rent. Because the posting of a bond constituting one year's rent is non-jurisdictional, we reverse.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Reversed

          Kevin Millen, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro se.

          J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert E. Lee Davies, Sr. J., joined. Kenny Armstrong, J., not participating.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          J. STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Jonathan M. Thomas ("Plaintiff") filed a detainer warrant against Defendant/Appellant Kevin Millen in Shelby County General Sessions Court on May 8, 2018. Plaintiff sought possession of a Memphis apartment owned by Plaintiff but rented by Mr. Millen after Mr. Millen allegedly failed to pay rent. Plaintiff was granted possession of the property pursuant to a detainer warrant issued on May 23, 2018. A judgment was also awarded against Mr. Millen for $1, 370.00. The next day, Mr. Millen filed a notice of appeal to the Shelby County Circuit Court ("the trial court").

         Mr. Millen filed a multitude of pleadings in the trial court. As is relevant to this appeal, Plaintiff eventually filed a motion to dismiss the appeal because Mr. Millen "failed to post the statutory bond equal to one year's rent of the premises" under Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-18-130(b)(2) and Rule 62.05 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.[2] In particular, Plaintiff alleged because Mr. Millen failed to post the statutory possession bond, his appeal had not been perfected and should be dismissed. Mr. Millen responded with a response he captioned as a "Quick Rebuttal of the Bogus Order of Dismissal[.]"

         On January 11, 2019, the trial court entered a written order dismissing the case. Therein, the trial court found that Mr. Millen was required to post a bond pursuant to section 29-18-130(b)(2) and Rule 62.05 but failed to do so. As such, the trial court ruled that Mr. Millen failed to perfect its appeal and it must be dismissed. Mr. Millen thereafter filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court.

         II. Discussion

         Mr. Millen raises a number of arguments in his appeal, many of which are, unfortunately, unintelligible. For example, Mr. Millen's stated issue constitutes a single paragraph spanning two full pages. Still, Mr. Millen is representing himself pro se before this Court and therefore is entitled to some leeway in his pleadings. As this Court has explained:

Parties who decide to represent themselves are entitled to fair and equal treatment by the courts. The courts should take into account that many pro se litigants have no legal training and little familiarity with the judicial system. However, the courts must also be mindful of the boundary between fairness to a pro se litigant and unfairness to the pro se litigant's adversary. Thus, the courts must not excuse pro se litigants from ...

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