Hooker v. Farm Plan Corp.

Annotate this Case
David HOOKER v. FARM PLAN CORPORATION

97-605                                             ___ S.W.2d ___

                    Supreme Court of Arkansas
               Opinion delivered February 12, 1998


1.   Appeal & error -- review of case -- limited to record as
     abstracted. -- The supreme court's review of a case on appeal
     is limited to the record as abstracted in the briefs; there
     are seven judges on the court, and it is impossible for each
     of them to examine the one record. 

2.   Appeal & error -- appellant's burden to produce proper
     abstract -- judgment affirmed when abstract flagrantly
     deficient. -- The appellant carries the burden of producing an
     abstract that is an impartial condensation, without comment or
     emphasis, of material parts of the pleadings, proceedings,
     facts, documents, and other matters in the record as are
     necessary to an understanding of all questions presented on
     appeal; when the abstract is flagrantly deficient, the
     judgment or decree of the trial court will be affirmed.

3.   Appeal & error -- abstract deficient. -- Where appellant
     failed to sufficiently abstract the pleadings, proceedings,
     agreements, facts, and orders in issue, the supreme court had
     neither an understanding of the issues nor the ability to
     court determine whether the issues were preserved for appeal;
     a notation that merely refers to the location of the document
     in the record is not sufficient. 
4.   Appeal & error -- statement of case deficient -- case affirmed
     without reaching merits. -- Where not only the abstract but
     also the statement of the case was deficient, the supreme
     court affirmed the trial court's order without reaching the
     merits of the case; the statement of the case must be concise
     and devoid of argument in order to give the court an impartial
     and factual summary of the nature of the case and the action
     taken by the trial court; here, appellant's statement failed
     to give necessary information about a credit agreement and
     contained both argument and citations to authority; pro se
     appellants are held to the same standard as attorneys.  


     Appeal from St. Francis Circuit Court; L.T. Simes, II, Judge;
affirmed.
     Appellant, pro se.
     Walker & Black, by:  Kendell R. Black, for appellee.


     Ray Thornton, Justice.
     Appellant David Hooker appeals the trial court's grant of
summary judgment in favor of appellee Farm Plan Corporation (FPC). 
Acting pro se, he raises ten points for reversal.  Because Hooker
submitted a flagrantly deficient abstract, and his brief contained
numerous other deficiencies, we affirm the trial court's order
under Ark. S. Ct. Rule 4-2(a), (b). 
     After a careful reading of appellant's brief, we are required
to affirm the trial court's ruling without reaching the merits of
the case for the reasons listed.  Our review of a case on appeal is
limited to the record as abstracted in the briefs.  See Porter v.
Porter, 329 Ark. 42, 945 S.W.2d 376 (1997); Kearney v. Comm. on
Professional Conduct, 320 Ark. 581, 897 S.W.2d 573 (1995).  The
reason for this rule is simple; there are seven judges on this
court, and it is impossible for each of them to examine the one
record.  Jewell v. Arkansas State Bd. of Dental Examiners, 324 Ark.
463, 464, 921 S.W.2d 950, 950 (1996).  The appellant carries the
burden of producing an abstract that is an impartial condensation,
without comment or emphasis, of material parts of the pleadings,
proceedings, facts, documents, and other matters in the record as
are necessary to an understanding of all questions presented on
appeal.  Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-2(a)(5); Porter, 329 Ark. at 44, 945 S.W.2d  at 377.  When the abstract is flagrantly deficient, we will
affirm the judgment or decree of the trial court.  Ark. Sup. Ct. R.
4-2(b)(2).    
     Hooker appeals from a summary judgment order in a case
involving a written agreement.  He fails, however, to abstract the
summary judgment order.  He presents us with an abstract that is
written in argumentative and narrative form.  Because he has not
sufficiently abstracted the pleadings, proceedings, facts, or
orders, we have neither an understanding of the issues, nor can we
determine whether these issues have been preserved for appeal. 
Moreover, Hooker failed to abstract or photocopy the agreement that
he is contesting.  Our rules provide that a document, such as a
contract, may be photocopied and attached as an exhibit to the
abstract.  Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-2(a)(5).  The document or the
necessary portions of the document, however, must be abstracted. 
Id.  Here, Hooker refers to the agreement as "Exhibit `A' attached
to complaint as set forth in Vol. 1 of Record."  As expressly
stated in Rule 4-2(a)(5), a notation that merely refers to the
location of the document in the record is not sufficient.  See
also, Finnegan v. Johnson, 326 Ark. 586, 932 S.W.2d 344 (1996)
(affirming judgment without reaching the merits of argument when
the contract at issue was contained in the record but was not
abstracted).  
     Not only is the abstract deficient, but the statement of the
case is deficient as well.  The statement of the case must be
concise and devoid of argument.  Ark. Sup. Ct. R. 4-2(a)(2).  This
statement, ordinarily two pages in length, shall not exceed five
pages without the court's permission.  Id.  The purpose of the
statement of the case is to give the court an impartial and factual
summary of the nature of the case and the action taken by the trial
court.  Id.  Hooker's five-page statement speaks about a credit
agreement and outstanding debt, yet we are not given information
about the agreement's basis.  Hooker also describes some of the
trial court actions but these descriptions are so interspersed with
argument and citations to authority that it is difficult to
determine what the record shows and what is purely argument.   
There are numerous other departures from Rule 4-2(a) as well.  We
do not relax these rules for pro se appellants; they are held to
the same standard as attorneys.  Jewell, 324 Ark. at 464, 921 S.W.2d  at 951.  For these reasons, we affirm the trial court's
order without reaching the merits of the case.