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Appeals court affirms rent ruling

Every man is entitled to his day in court, but he should have a better argument than "not cool" if he wants an appeals court to see things his way, according to a ruling issued last month.

"'Not cool' is not a legal argument," insists a footnote in a Wisconsin Court of Appeals District III decision filed Oct. 31.

The appeal involves a Pierce County small claims case brought by Jerry M. Kolve, rural River Falls, against Jasen R. Cook, who according to court records, also goes by Jasen R. Dosh.

In January of this year, Kolve took Cook to court for failure to pay rent. In September 2005 Cook entered into an agreement to rent a three-bedroom trailer from Kolve. According to background information in the appeals court decision, the two don't agree on the start date of the lease agreement.

The county court found Cook owed rent for half of September and all of October, November and December. Cook claims he moved out of the trailer at the end of October, but the judge couldn't find adequate documentation of that.

The judge did, though, have a letter from Kolve to Cook telling Cook not to trespass on the property after December, and the court determined Cook vacated the premises then.

The county court also accepted Kolve's testimony that a linoleum floor was scratched and a window broken while Cook had possession of the trailer.

Cook, who according to court records now lives in Glenwood City, was ordered to pay Kolve $3,660.

Acting as his own attorney, Cook filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals. He asked for double his security deposit.

But the higher court found that Cook's brief "violates the rules of appellate procedure and does not identify any legal issues." The appeal judges affirmed the lower court's decision.

People who act as their own attorneys are bound by the same rules that apply to lawyers, wrote the appeals court.

"Cook fails to provide proper statement of issues. Rather (he) merely provides a 26-page litany of purported facts and unsupported allegations that the trial court overlooked various issues and 'lashed at' and insulted Cook."

The ruling continues, "This court need not address issues so lacking in organization and substance that for the court to decide the issues, it would first have to develop them."

The decision concludes, "If there are any actual legal issues in Cook's argument section, this court is unable to discern them. We therefore affirm the judgment."

The decision uses this example of Cook's failure to identify legal issues: "Mr. Kolve stated that I, Mr. Cook, broke a window and the bench for his picnic table -- not cool!"

The appeals court decision admonishes: "'Not cool' is not a legal argument."