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Rule 481. Amendment of Application and Briefs (1984)
The application or brief in support thereof, or in reply thereto, may be amended at any time when justice requires upon such reasonable terms as the court may prescribe. The record and appeal bond or deposit given as security for costs may be amended in the Supreme Court under the same circumstances and on the same terms as authorized in the Court of Appeals.
Amended by order of Dec. 5, 1983, eff. April 1, 1984: Minor textual changes.
|Prior Amendments||Future Amendments|
|Oct. 29, 1940, eff. Sept. 1, 1941||Repealed by order of April 10, 1986, eff. Sept. 1, 1986|
(No. 55) Question: 1. Where an application for writ of error was filed and granted before the rules became effective, may the Supreme Court after such rules have become effective properly dismiss such an application without allowing an amendment, upon the ground that jurisdiction because of conflict of decisions is not correctly shown, and properly overrule a motion to amend in such respect?
2. How and under what circumstances may an application for writ of error in the Supreme Court be amended?
Answer: Rule 814 insofar as it is applicable reads: "These rules shall take effect on September 1, 1941. They shall govern all proceedings in actions brought after they take effect and also further proceedings in actions then pending.... "
We are of the opinion that motion to amend, as well as the overruling of such a motion and the dismissal of a writ of error, would be "further proceedings" as contemplated by the above rule.
Rule 1 requires that the rules be given a liberal construction "to obtain a just, fair, equitable and impartial adjudication of the rights of litigants under established principles of substantive law." It is the clear intent of Rules 481 and 504 that the appellate courts should allow reasonable amendments at any time to correct or amend defects or irregularities in want of form. Rule 437, which is applicable to the Courts of Civil Appeals, provides, in substance, that a judgment should not be affirmed or reversed or an appeal dismissed for defects or irregularities in appellate procedure, "either of form or substance, without allowing a reasonable time to correct or amend such defects or irregularities provided the court may make no enlargement of time prohibited by Rule 5 nor any enlargement of time for filing transcript or statement of facts except as contemplated by Rule 387." Rule 504, which specifically applies to the Supreme Court, is to the same effect as Rule 437, which, as stated, applies to actions pending in the Courts of Civil Appeals.
The committee strongly believes that Rules 437, 481, and 504 mark an advanced step in procedure, and that compliance with them will enable the courts in the future to dispose of cases on their merits and reduce to a minimum dismissals for technical procedural defects.
No purpose stands out in the rules with greater prominence than this, viz.; that the attainment of justice, according to the principles of substantive law, is the desideratum in every case; that the rules of procedure should expedite, and not frustrate, the trial of cases on their merit and that irregularities either in matters of form or substance should be, disregarded unless such indulgence and liberality will result in injustice.
Cochran v. Wool Growers Central Storage Co., 140 Tex. 904, 166 S.W.2d 904 (1943), which passes upon a motion to amend an application for writ of error is, we think, in accordance with the above views.
Where the question is raised as to whether the court should dismiss a granted writ of error because of fault in the wording or showing of the application we think that Rule 504, already cited; mandatorily conditions such an order upon the allowance of amendment, for such rule, insofar as here applicable, reads:
"The Supreme Court will not affirm or reverse a judgment or dismiss a writ of error for defects or irregularities in appellate procedure either of form or substance, without allowing a reasonable time to correct or amend such defects or irregularities... "
This mandatory provision for amendment only applies, however, where, the court bases its action upon some such fault.
For a feasible practice in this connection see Hodo v. Mexican Nat'l R.R. Co., 88 Tex. 523, 524, 32 S.W. 511 (1895), and Hilliard v. White, 88 Tex. 591, 593, 32 S.W. 525, 526 (1895).
6 Tex. B.J. 20 (1943) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 30 (1945).
(No. 119) Question: In a case tried in the justice court, the losing party filed an appeal bond, approved by the justice of the peace, which was regular in manner and form and conditioned as required by law. It recited, however, that the appeal had been taken to the county court. The civil jurisdiction of the county court had been abolished and the appeal lay to the district court, to which the transcript was sent by the justice of the peace and there filed in due time. Appellee filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the ground that the district court had no jurisdiction because it appeared from the recitals in the appeal bond that the appeal had been taken to the county court. Appellant, invoking Rule 571, moved the court to allow him five days within which to prepare and file an amended appeal bond to correct the error in the original bond. Should the appeal be dismissed or should the appellant be allowed five days within which to file an amended bond?
Answer: We are of the opinion that appellant should be allowed five days within which to file an amended bond. Under Rule 571 the appeal was perfected by filing the bond with the justice of the peace. The transcript an appeal was lodged in due time in the court which had jurisdiction of the appeal. All parties to the suit were aware of this fact. They were required by the rule to make their appearance at the next term of the court "without further notice." The appellee did in fact make his appearance in due time in the court which actually had jurisdiction of the appeal. He was, therefore, not surprised nor had he sustained any injury by reason of the defect and irregularity in the bond which was manifestly due to a clerical error and it probably resulted from the use of a printed form.
The rules of civil procedure, in their general scope, manifest the clear intent of the Supreme Court that appeals shall not be dismissed for clerical errors or for defects in mere form or substance when they can be cured by amendment, particularly where no injury results to the adverse party. Rule 481 relating to the Supreme Court provides that the application, or brief of the argument in support thereof, or reply thereto may be amended at any time when justice requires and specifically provides that the record and the appeal bond may be amended in the Supreme Court precisely as the same could be done in the Court of Civil Appeals under Rules 428, 429, 430 and 431. These rules established a new and wholesome procedure. They were adapted to prevent injustice and the denial of the substantive rights of parties which had often theretofore resulted from undue subservience to mere legal form.
We are also of the opinion that the matter is not jurisdictional. It has been held that an informal or defective bond not objected to may confer jurisdiction. Tynberg v. Cohen, 67 Tex. 220, 2 S.W. 734 (1887); Southern Pac. Co. v. Staley, 76 Tex. 418, 13 S.W. 480 (1890); Ricker v. Collins, 81 Tex. 662, 17 S.W. 378 (1891). Irregularities in a bond are waived by an appearance and amendment of pleadings and delay in making a motion to dismiss and such defects may be waived by continuance by consent. Cason v. Laney, 82 Tex. 317, 18 S.W. 667 (1891); Casan v. Westfall, 83 Tex. 26, 18 S.W. 668 (1892); Futch v. Palmer, 11 Tex.Civ.App. 191, 32 S.W. 566 (1895). There is no sound reason why, in the circumstances stated, the appellant should not be allowed time within which to file an amended bond and we think Rule 571 requires that it be done.
7 Tex. B.J. 80 (1944) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 44 (1945).
(No. 131) Question: In San Antonio Joint Stock Bank v. Malcher, 164 S.W.2d 197, 199 (Tex. Civ. App.-San Antonio 1942), the Court of Civil Appeals held that points presented by appellant, but not briefed were waived. The decision was followed by Piedmont Fire Ins. Co. v. Ladin, 174 S.W.2d 991 (Tex. Civ. App.-Galveston 1943) and, during the present year, by Broussard v. L. Cartwright Realty Co., 179 S.W.2d 777 (Tex. Civ. App.-Amarillo 1944), and Orange Laundry Co. v. Stark, 179 S.W.2d 841 (Tex. Civ. App.-Amarillo 1944). Has appellant any remedy in a Case of this sort?
Answer: Yes. His most obvious remedy is, of course, to comply with the briefing rules when he prepares his brief.
We are of the opinion that he has another remedy; that is, a motion to amend. We beg to quote from a number of rules and cases in support of this answer.
Rule 422. The purpose of briefs being to acquaint the court with the points relied upon, the manner in which they arose, together with such argument of facts and law as will enable the court to decide the same, a substantial compliance with these rules will suffice in the interest of justice; but for a flagrant violation of the rules the court may require the case to be rebriefed.
Rule 429. Should it be apparent during the submission or afterwards that the case has not been properly prepared, as shown in the transcript, or properly presented in the brief or briefs, or that 'the law and authorities have not been properly cited, which will enable the court to decide the case, it may decline to receive the submission; or, if received, may set it aside and make such orders as may be necessary to secure a more satisfactory submission of the case; ...
Rule 431. Briefs may be amended or supplemented at any time when justice requires upon such reasonable terms as the court may prescribe, and if the court shall strike or refuse to consider any part of a brief, the court shall on reasonable terms allow the same to be amended or supplemented.
Rule 437. A judgment shall not be affirmed or reversed or an appeal dismissed for defects or irregularities in appellate procedure, either of form or substance, without allowing a reasonable time to correct or amend such defects or irregularities, ... "
In Gillette Motor Transp. Co. v. Wichita Falls & S. Ry. Co., 170 S.W.2d 629 (Tex. Civ. App.-Fort Worth 1943), the Court decided that under the rules above quoted it could, as it did, "after submission of the cause, allow amendment of 'appellant's brief' in order to present points of error not presented in the original brief."
There are similar rules as to applications for writ of error and briefs in the Supreme Court, viz. Rules 469 subd. (f), 481, 491, and 504.
In Cochran v. Wool Growers Central Storage Co., 162 S.W.2d 941 (Tex. 1942), the Supreme Court, having previously granted a writ of error, dismissed it because the application in its Grounds of Jurisdiction on the subject of conflicts of decisions was not in accordance with the rules. Subsequently, on motion far rehearing, it observed that the application had been filed before the rules went into effect but granted a motion to amend which was filed after their effective date, saying in support of its action: "An examination of Rule 481, supra, will disclose that it provides: ‘The application, ... may be amended at any time when justice requires and upon such reasonable terms as the Court may prescribe...' Rule 504, supra, provides: 'The Supreme Court will not ... dismiss a writ of error for defects or irregularities in appellate procedure, either of form or substance, without allowing a reasonable time to correct or amend such defects or irregularities,...' Clearly these two rules authorize this court to grant one who prosecutes a writ of error to this court the right to amend his application, where it is defective either as to form or substance. Such being the case, an application which is defective, in that it fails to properly state grounds of jurisdiction under Section 1 of Article 1821, R.C.S., or Subdivision (b) of Rule 469, can be amended in this court at any time when, in the opinion of the court, justice so requires. Furthermore, we think the right to amend maybe granted even though the original application for writ of error was filed before the effective date of Rules 481 and 504, supra. This holding in no way violates Rule 814, supra, defining the effective date of our present Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. We will therefore order that the amended application for writ of error be filed, and will now consider this case on such amended application."
See also Moore v. Dilworth, 142 Tex. 538, 179 S.W.2d 940 (1944), in which the same court refused to consider a point of error which was contained in neither the motion for rehearing nor the application. The court, however, took care to add: "It would serve no purpose in this instance to permit the application for writ of error to be amended under Rule 504 because the point was not assigned in the motion for rehearing in the Court of Civil Appeals."
These decisions, and the rules upon which they are based very clearly indicate, we think, that a proper practice on behalf of a party whose appellate contentions have not been considered an account of fault in briefing may and, when he actually has a meritorious contention, should be motion to amend.
7 Tex. B.J. 282 (1944) reprinted in 8 Tex. B.J. 49 (1945).