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Estate of MacComb

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

September 22, 2015

ESTATE OF MILDRED D. MACCOMB

Considered September 9, 2015

On the motion: Randy Robinson, Esq., Augusta, for appellant James Richman.

No party filed an opposition.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

OPINION

PER CURIAM

[¶1] James A. Richman instituted an appeal of a judgment of the Kennebec County Probate Court ( J. Mitchell, J. ) regarding the probate of the estate of Mildred D. MacComb. We ( Gorman, J. ) rejected two briefs filed by Richman and dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution. Richman now seeks " reconsideration" [1] of the order rejecting his second brief and dismissing the appeal. By review of the full Court, the motion for reconsideration is denied.

[¶2] MacComb died in November of 2010. A formal testate proceeding concerning her estate was initiated in the Kennebec County Probate Court on December 15, 2010. After almost five years of litigation, the court issued its final judgment on March 6, 2015. On March 20, 2015, Attorney Andrews B. Campbell, representing Richman, filed a notice of appeal from that decision. In May of 2015, Attorney Campbell requested and received leave to withdraw, and Attorney Randy L. Robinson entered his appearance on behalf of Richman.

[¶3] On May 29, 2015, the Clerk of the Law Court issued a briefing schedule that required Attorney Robinson to file the appellant's brief on or before July 21, 2015. Attorney Robinson filed a document that purported to be his brief on July 17, 2015.

[¶4] On July 28, 2015, Catherine Gero, an unrepresented appellee, filed a motion asking us to reject the brief because it contained myriad substantial errors. Included among the many errors were inaccurate and misleading citations to the record. In his opposition to that motion, Attorney Robinson responded:

Counsel admits errors of form in his brief, largely due to pressure from time constraints resulting from hacking and destruction of all 2015 files the week before filing was due which made filing at all a [sic] accomplishment. . . .
However inartfully presented, counsel submits that the issues presented in this appeal are very important substantive issues for the future of the probate law and that the Arguments presented are persuasive.
Justice demands form should not be elevated over substance. The Rules of Appellate procedure are to be construed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every appeal. M. R. App. P. 1.

By order dated July 30, 2015, we rejected Attorney Robinson's original brief, but we denied Gero's motion to dismiss and granted Attorney Robinson an additional two weeks within which to file an amended brief " with correct citations to the record."

[¶5] On August 14, 2015, Attorney Robinson filed his amended brief. Gero then filed a motion requesting that we reject the amended brief, which still contained numerous errors, including erroneous record citations. In his ...


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