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Enough already.

That’s what the Virginia Court of Appeals said this week to a Fairfax couple who divorced in 2006 but still managed to accumulate a 6,000-page, 19-volume joint appendix in their 2008 appeal.

Jeffrey and Lynette Fadness married in 1980 and reared three children to adulthood.

Jeffrey appealed last year, then appealed again, complaining that the Fairfax trial court should have granted him a divorce for cruelty and desertion and should have granted him more than his 52-55 percent share of marital property. Lynette cross-appealed, and both parties complained about the spousal support award to Lynette and the court’s handling of attorney’s fees.

In a separate action, Jeffrey sued Lynette for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, defamation and emotional distress, winning a $540,000 damage award last year. Jeffrey alleged that when he and the children left home for two weeks in February 2004, Lynette had the family’s dog put down and disposed of a puppy and a pair of royal mute swans the family had owned for over 12 years. Lynette claimed Jeffrey had hidden assets, including a pole barn, a yacht and real estate investments.

In a 14-page opinion released Nov. 4 in Fadness v. Fadness, Judge Robert Humphreys lost his patience with the husband’s appellate approach of “throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks.”

Humphreys spent some time discussing the panel’s application of Rule 5A:20, a procedural rule that has been the subject of dialogue between Virginia’s two appellate courts in recent months.

In the panel’s published opinion, Humphreys said the Fadnesses had waived their right to review.

“The parties in this case have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorney’s fees, and years in protracted litigation. The massive 6,000 page joint appendix spans 19 separate volumes. The joint appendix’s table of contents alone is 66 pages long, but was of little use in providing guidance to relevant portions of the record,” Humphreys wrote. The attorneys had filed motion after motion in the trial court, but couldn’t be bothered to research the issues they had raised on appeal, he said.

“Appellate courts are not unlit rooms where attorneys may wander blindly about, hoping to stumble upon a reversible error,” Humphreys warned.

By Deborah Elkins

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