January 6, 2017
State of West Virginia, Petitioner Below, Respondent
Humane Society of Raleigh County, Inc., Petitioner
Humane Society of Raleigh County, Inc., by counsel Michael E.
Froble, appeals the order of the Circuit Court of Raleigh
County, entered on March 1, 2016, refusing, for lack of
standing, petitioner's appeal from a magistrate court
order directing the euthanization of a dog. Respondent State
of West Virginia appears by counsel John W. Gallaher, Jr.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the order of the circuit court is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Circuit Court of Raleigh County entered an order in February
of 2015, granting a Petition to Destroy Caninus Familiaris
filed by the State. Brenda Jeffrey and Randall Jerome Smith
owned Jasper, a male whippet mix that was the subject of the
petition. Jeffrey and Smith were charged in separate criminal
actions with harboring a vicious dog after Jasper attacked
and bit a four-year-old girl and an eight-year-old girl on
three separate occasions over several months. The final
attack resulted in substantial injuries to one girl's
arm. Jeffrey and Smith pled guilty in March of 2015.
one month after the circuit court granted the State's
petition, and after entry of the Jeffrey and Smith guilty
pleas, the circuit court vacated its order on the ground that
it had no jurisdiction to consider the petition because the
criminal charges were proceeding in magistrate court. The
magistrate court conducted a hearing on the petition to
euthanize Jasper in May of 2015, and petitioner appeared at
this hearing, by counsel. Smith did not appear; Jeffrey
appeared but chose not to testify. The magistrate court
ordered that Jasper be euthanized.
appealed the order to the Circuit Court of Raleigh County. On
appeal, respondent sought dismissal of the appeal based on
petitioner's lack of standing. The circuit court found
that Jeffrey and Smith were Jasper's owners and
petitioner was "merely the physical custodian of the
dog." It thus refused the petition for appeal based on
petitioner's lack of standing. This appeal followed.
appeal, petitioner asserts a single assignment of error: that
the circuit court erred in ruling that petitioner had no
standing in the matter of Jasper's euthanization.
"'This Court reviews the circuit court's final
order and ultimate disposition under an abuse of discretion
standard. We review challenges to findings of fact under a
clearly erroneous standard; conclusions of law are reviewed
de novo.' Syl. pt. 4, Burgess v.
Porterfield, 196 W.Va. 178, 469 S.E.2d 114 (1996)."
Syl. Pt. 1, State v. Blatt, 235 W.Va. 489, 774
S.E.2d 570, 571 (2015).
explained in syllabus point 5 of Findley v. State Farm
Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 213 W.Va. 80, 576
S.E.2d 807 (2002):
Standing is comprised of three elements: First, the party
attempting to establish standing must have suffered an
"injury-in-fact"-an invasion of a legally protected
interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b)
actual or imminent and not conjectural or hypothetical.
Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury
and the conduct forming the basis of the lawsuit. Third, it
must be likely that the injury will be redressed through a
favorable decision of the court.
See also, Snyder v. Callaghan, 168 W.Va. 265, 275,
284 S.E.2d 241, 248 (1981) (To have standing, a party must
show, inter alia, that the interest to be protected is
"arguably within the zone of interests protected by the
statute, regulation or constitutional guarantee which is the
basis for the lawsuit.").
argues that it must be deemed to have standing because the
circuit court treated it as having standing throughout the
pendency of this matter. However, we have recognized that
"[s]tanding is a jurisdictional requirement that cannot
be waived, and may be brought up at any time in a
proceeding." Men & Women Against Discrimination
v. Family Prot. Servs. Bd., 229 W.Va. 55, 60, 725 S.E.2d
756, 761 (2011) quoting Franklin D. Cleckley, Robin J. Davis
& Louis J. Palmer, Jr., Litigation Handbook on West
Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure § 12(b), at 21
(Supp. 2004). Petitioner further asserts-without citation to
the appendix record on appeal-that "[o]wnership [of
Jasper] was transferred" to it in August of 2014, and
also-again, without citation to the appendix record on
appeal-that the circuit court "ruled [in January of
2015] that [petitioner] was responsible for the financial
cost of the euthanasia and costs of housing Jasper. . .
." These unsupported statements are not helpful to our
analysis. See State v. Larry A.H., 230 W.Va. 709,
716, 742 S.E.2d 125, 132 (2013)("[a]n appellant must
carry the burden of showing error in the judgment of which he
complains. This Court will not reverse the judgment of a
trial court unless error affirmatively appears from the
record. Error will not be presumed, all presumptions being in
favor of the correctness of the judgment."). In further
explanation, we note that Rule 10(c)(7) of the West Virginia
Rules of Appellate Procedure requires that
[t]he brief must contain an argument exhibiting clearly the
points of fact and law presented, the standard of review
applicable, and citing the authorities relied on . . . [and]
must contain appropriate and specific citations to the
record on appeal[.] The Court may disregard errors that
are not adequately supported by specific references to the
record on appeal.
(emphasis added). In an Administrative Order entered December
10, 2012, "Re: Filings That Do Not Comply With the Rules
of Appellate Procedure, " then-Chief Justice Menis E.
Ketchum explained in part that "[b]riefs with arguments
that do not contain a citation to legal authority to support
the argument presented and do not 'contain appropriate
and specific citations to the record on appeal . . .' as
required by rule 10(c)(7)" are not in compliance with
this Court's rules. Petitioner's brief is inadequate
as it fails to comply with our rules and guidelines. We thus
decline to address petitioner's sole assignment of error
because it was not properly developed on appeal.
foregoing reasons, we affirm.
CONCURRED IN BY: Chief Justice, Allen H. Loughry II Justice,
Robin Jean Davis Justice, Margaret L. Workman Justice, Menis
E. Ketchum Justice, Elizabeth D. Walker.