HOUSTON – A man sued by Progressive County Mutual Insurance Co. has lost his appeal after failing to construct a proper briefing while representing himself.

Kenneth Coleman appealed in the 1st District of Texas appeals court after the Harris County trial court ruled against him. The district court affirmed the previous judgment July 27.

Progressive had sued Coleman due to a situation involving a 2013 car accident. Coleman did not show up for trial court, so the trial court made a default judgment in Progressive's favor, awarding $10,604.43 in damages, court fees and interest.

Coleman appealed the decision and decided to represent himself. The appeals court acknowledged that he did not have a counsel to help him, however, the court also declared that those who represent themselves must "comply with applicable laws and rules of procedure." The appeals court cited a previous case, Wheeler v. Green, to explain that failing to apply the same rules to both a counsel's briefing and a pro se briefing would be providing "an unfair advantage over litigants represented by counsel."

The appeals decision added that without a proper briefing, the appellate court "has no duty—or even right—to perform an independent review of the record and applicable law to determine whether there was error." The appellate court made clear that if it were to give a pro se litigant some kind of advantage by helping in any way, it would be "abandoning our role as neutral adjudicators and become an advocate for that party."

The appeals court clarified that a brief must contain a "clear and concise argument for the contentions made, with appropriate citations to authorities and to the record." The court pointed out that Coleman's brief, however, did not raise specific points, nor did he cite any legal authorities.

The appeals court deemed Coleman's briefing as "inadequate" and recognized his appellate issues as being waived. The appeals court affirmed the trial court's judgment.

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Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas
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