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Rule 418. Briefs: Contents (1981)


The brief for appellant shall contain in the order here stated:

(a) Names of all Parties. A complete list of the names of all parties shall be listed on the first page of appellant's brief, so the members of the court may at once determine whether they are disqualified to serve or should recuse themselves from participation in the decision of the case.

(b) Index. The brief shall contain a subject index with page references where the discussion of each point relied upon may be found and also a list of authorities alphabetically arranged, together with reference to the pages of the brief where the same are cited.

(c) Statement of the Case. A short, plain statement of the nature of the case without argument. A resume of the pleadings or evidence is seldom necessary and should be avoided.

(d) Points of Error. A statement of the points upon which the appeal is predicated shall be stated in short form without argument and be separately numbered. In parenthesis after each point, reference shall be made to the page of the record where the matter complained of is to be found. Such points will be sufficient if they direct the attention of the court to the error relied upon. Complaints that the evidence is legally or factually insufficient to support a particular issue or finding, and challenges directed against any conclusions of law of the trial court based upon such issues or findings, may be combined under a single point of error raising both contentions if the record references and the argument under such point sufficiently direct the court's attention to the nature of the complaint made regarding each such issue or finding or legal conclusion based thereon. Complaints made as to several issues or findings relating to one element of recovery or defense may be combined in one point, if separate record references are made.

(e) Brief of the Argument. A brief of the argument shall present separately or grouped the points relied upon for reversal. The argument shall include (i) a fair, condensed statement of the facts pertinent to such points, with references to the pages in the record where the same may be found; and (ii) such discussion of the facts and the authorities relied upon as may be requisite to maintain the point at issue. If complaint is made of any part of the charge given or refused, such part of the charge shall be set out in full. If complaint is made of the improper admission or rejection of evidence, the full substance of such evidence so admitted or rejected shall be set out with reference to the pages of the record where the same may be found. Repetition or prolixity of statement or argument must be avoided.

(f) Prayer for Relief. The nature of the relief sought on appeal should be clearly stated.

Amended by order of June 10, 1980, eff. Jan. 1, 1981: The last two sentences of subdivision (d) have been added. The addition to subdivision (d) is designed to reduce the technical requirements of briefs and also to eliminate repetitive and duplicative points of error. This amendment, while not abolishing points altogether, is consistent with a tendency to greater liberality in briefing rules and less formality in points of error. (e) is textually revised.

Prior Amendments Future Amendments
Oct. 29, 1940, eff. Sept. 1, 1941 Repealed by order of April 24, 1984, eff. Oct. 1, 1984. See Rule 414.

March 31, 1941, eff. Sept. 1, 1941

Sept. 20, 1941, eff. Dec. 31, 1941  
July 11, 1977, eff. Jan. 1, 1978  


(No. 94) Question: What are the requisites of the "points" in appellant's brief?

Answer: Quotations from Rule 418 and one of its appended notes, from an opinion of the Supreme Court clearly state and explain the requisites.

The pertinent part of Subdivision (b) of Rule 418 reads: "Such points will be sufficient if they direct the attention of the court to the error relied upon and they should ordinarily be so concisely stated that they may appear, separately numbered, on a single page of the brief. Assignments of error need' not be copied in the brief, and may be cited by reference only.”

Assignments of error are thus only referred to in the brief. They are not to be confused with "points" which are to be set out in the brief. Upon the subject of assignments of error see Rule 374 and compare Rules 324 and 325.

A note appended to Rule 418 reads: "The ‘points’ provided for are not to be formal propositions, but brief expressions of the questions involved in the appeal. For example, ‘First Point: The error of the court in refusing to charge upon the issue of appellant's liability under the family purpose doctrine. Germane to Assignment of Error No. 4, Transcript p. 38.’”

In Fambrough v. Wagley, 140 Tex. 577, 169 S.W.2d 478 (1943), the Supreme Court, in disagreeing with expressions in the opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals upon this subject, said: "Our present briefing rules were adopted for the purpose of simplifying the briefing of cases so that greater attention will be devoted to the presentation of the merits of the appeal, and less attention given to the mechanics of the brief. The object of a 'point' in the brief, as provided for in Rule 418, is to call the Court's attention to the questions raised and discussed in the brief. It is intended that the 'point' shall be short or in few words. It is not necessary that a 'point' be complete within itself, in the sense that it must, on its face, show that the matter complained of presents reversible error. If a 'point' is sufficient to direct the Court's attention to the matter complained of, the Court will look to the 'point' and the statement and argument thereunder to determine question of reversible error. Simply stated, the Court will pass on both the sufficiency and the merits of the 'point' in 'the light of the statement and argument thereunder."

See also to the same effect Federal Underwriters Exch. v. Lynch, 140 Tex. 516, 168 S.W.2d 653 (1943).

6 Tex. B.J. 142 (1943) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 34 (1945).

(No. 113) Question: Can a non-appealing appellee now cross-assign error in the Court of Civil Appeals, and if so, must his cross-assignments be confined to the matters presented by appellant's appeal?

Answer: Laying aside consideration of complaints by one appellee against another appellee and the need, vel non, of motion for new trial where appellee desires to complain of the whole or a part of trial court's judgment or order, we are of the opinion that appellee in the Court of Civil Appeals may, without cross-appeal or cross-assignment of error, urge against appellant any complaints concerning the matter as to which the appellant has perfected his appeal, by the use of "points" in his brief. Cross-appeal was mentioned in original Rule 420 but the amendment to the rule omits mention of it. It is not necessary in Texas as to any complaints concerning the matter brought up by appellant; and that ordinarily means all complaints that appellee has. See Ward v. Scarborough, 236 S.W. 441 (Tex. Comm'n App. 1922) and Woldert Grocery Co. v. Booneville Elevator Co., 99 Tex. 581, 91 S.W. 1082 (1906). In some cases, however, appellant may sever, that is, take up a part only of the matter as it stood in the trial court. Woeltz v. Woeltz, 93 Tex. 548, 57 S.W. 35 (1900); Weems. v. Watson, 91 Tex. 35, 40 S.W. 722 (1897); Barnsdall Oil Co. v. Hubbard, 130 Tex. 476, 109 S.W.2d 960 (1937). See Rule 353.

In such cases, under the same authorities, appellee may not complain of anything within the scope solely of the part not brought up. In the brief the appellee's complaint may be called a “point” (Rules 418, 420) or, doubtless, a "cross-point," and of course must be accompanied by briefing as required by the rules above cited.

7 Tex. B.J. 15 (1944) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 41 (1945).

(No. 114) Question: Does the opinion of the Supreme Court in Jones v. Ross, 141 Tex. 415, 173 S.W.2d 1022 (1943), adversely affect the abolition of the general demurrer and the provisions for ready amendment of defects of appellate procedure under the Rules of Civil Procedure?

Answer: We think that it does not. In the case referred to, plaintiff's petition in the trial court averred an untenable basis of recovery, defendant's general demurrer was sustained, plaintiff refused to amend, and the suit was consequently dismissed. On appeal the Court of. Civil Appeals reversed, because in its opinion the petition stated a cause of action. The Supreme Court held that the sustaining of a general demurrer was error, under Rule 90, but that it could not reverse the judgment of the district court for such error "because the appellant presented this case to the Court of Civil Appeals on assignments that confined that court to law questions which test the sufficiency of the petition in the district court as against a general demurrer" and because the petition showed that there was no cause of action; and it accordingly reversed judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals and affirmed that of the district court. Motion for rehearing was overruled.

Rule 90 requires that general demurrers shall not be used but that in contested litigation all faults of pleading are waived unless specifically pointed out. A want of cause of action or the failure to state one may be raised but if so, it must be raised specifically in order that the court and also the pleader may proceed with notice of the fault and that amendment may be effected. Rules 90 and 66.

If a general demurrer is urged, the court at the instance of the opposite party or on its own motion should not sustain it but should strike or overrule it or require it to be reworded. Rules 68, 90. By sustaining the general demurrer the trial court therefore commits error. The question then arises whether the error is reversible.

The court in the present decision answers in the negative, apparently because the appellant did not, on appeal, assign error or, complain as to the improper act of the trial court in considering and sustaining a general demurrer. But the opinion impliedly shows that the court was still more persuaded by the conviction that the case was considered in the manner in which the parties desired and that a correct result was reached.

In the state of the record it would seem that by a general demurrer defendant obtained all of the advantage that he would have got from a special one; his demurrer was sustained; and it would seem that the plaintiff waived any objection to the generality of the demurrer by failing to point out that a general demurrer should not be used and by standing on his petition when the general demurrer was sustained. Rule 90.

The defect in appellate procedure above referred to lay in appellant's failure to assign as error the action of the trial court in considering a general demurrer when a special demurrer should have been used. In most judge-tried cases, including any case tried solely on demurrer, the assignment of error is the "point" in the brief. Rules 374, 418. If there was no such point or no sufficient point in the present case and the appellant had asked leave in the Court of Civil Appeals to supply one, or if the appellate disposition had been based upon his omission or fault in briefing, leave to amend in that respect should have been granted before final disposition in such court. Rules 431, 437. But as the Supreme Court says, " ... an examination of plaintiff's brief in the Court of Civil Appeals discloses that he plants himself squarely on the proposition that as a matter of law" the case he alleged was recoverable, when it was not. So that amendment of the brief would have done the plaintiff no more good than amendment of his petition in the first instance. That is, none.

And finally, the ruling of the trial court, for that reason, was not one that was calculated to cause an improper judgment, and for that reason there should have been no reversal on account of it. Rules 434 and 503.

The case, from a procedural standpoint, may be summarized by an illustration. Suppose plaintiff should represent to the trial court and again to the Court of Civil Appeals that his petition showed all he could allege or prove and that he desired to stake his recovery upon it, and suppose those courts should be of the opinion that no recovery could be had in a case of that character whether amendment was had or not. The duty of the courts in such a situation would seem to be no plainer than was the duty of the Supreme Court in the present instance.

The decision, we believe, enforces two underlying principles of the rules: that the trial court should reach the merits of the case before it and that the appellate court should reach the merits of the appeal.

7 Tex. B.J. 44 (1944) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 41 (1945).