POST-TRIAL MOTIONS: ROUND THREE

March 23, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’ve posted here about the necessity to file post-trial motions to preserve error in chancery court, and how the COA’s January 25, 2011, decision in Robinson v. Brown may have changed our traditional practice.  Then the COA stayed the mandate and we awaited a new decision.

The new Robinson v. Brown opinion was issued yesterday, March 22, 2011, and in my judgment we are back exactly where we started: You’d better file those post-trial motions if you expect to raise an issue on appeal

Although the new opinion actually addresses and analyzes the sufficiency of the chancellor’s findings, the court states at ¶ 23 that, “In this case, we likewise find the challenge of the chancellor’s findings in the instant case procedurally barred.”  The two cases cited in support of the point are distinguishable both on their facts and their procedural posture, but no matter.  The COA is determined to interpret MRCP 52(b) in its own way.

I have other fish to fry, so I don’t really have the time or energy to devote to breaking this down further.  Besides, I am out of the appeal business.  It’s lawyers like you who have to deal with this.

If the supreme court will take this case on cert and look closely at it, perhaps our supreme chancellor, Justice Pierce, will be afforded the opportunity to elucidate this for us.  If I were still practicing law in chancery court I would certainly want the point clarified for the sake of my clients and my malpractice insurance premiums.   

In the meantime, I stand by my earlier suggestion to file those post-trial motions raising every conceivable point possible that you may wish to raise on appeal.  If you don’t you may find yourself “procedurally barred” in the COA.

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