Consequences of Party’s Failure to Cite Legal Authority

Walden v. Hutchinson, No. 1060516, released by the Alabama Supreme Court on November 9, reminds us of the consequences of failing to cite legal authority in appellate briefs. 

In Walden, the appellant appealed the trial court’s determination that a particular “Schedule A” was legally sufficient to transfer a quitclaim mortgage to a trust. She argued that Schedule A lacked any legal description of the real property it purported to convey and that it failed to “comply with various other statutory requirements of a conveyance.” She failed, however, to cite any legal authority to support that assertion, merely referencing an inapposite statute. The court reiterated the consequences of failing to support an argument with legal authority, stating that Rule 28(a)(10), Ala. R. App. P., requires that arguments in an appellant’s brief contain citations to the cases, statutes, and other authorities.  The court further indicated that effect of noncompliance with this rule is well-established: where no legal authority is cited or argued, the effect is the same as if no argument had been made. To the extent the trial court held that Schedule A was sufficient, then, the court affirmed that holding.