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In re Adison P.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 29, 2015


Session May 13, 2015.

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Henderson County No. 140881 Roy B. Morgan, Jr., Judge.

Chadwick R. Wood, Lexington, Tennessee, for the appellant, The Honorable Robert Stevie Beal.

Brian Schuette, Bowling Green, Kentucky, pro hac vice, for the appellee, William R.F.

Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Brandon O. Gibson, J., joined.



I. Background

In the interests of consistency and judicial economy, we recite the relevant factual and procedural history as set out in Adison I:

[Appellant] Father and the minor child's mother . . . Joey M.P. ("Mother"), were not married when the minor child was born. Approximately a year after the minor child's birth, the trial court held a hearing with regard to custody and paternity. An order on the hearing was subsequently entered on December 8, 2003. In addition to declaring Father as the minor child's natural father, the trial court's December 8, 2003, order provided Father with specified visitation rights.
According to Father, Mother, over time, consistently failed to follow the trial court's order with respect to visitation. As a result, on July 11, 2011, Father filed a petition for contempt and asked that the trial court enter an order granting him temporary exclusive custody of the minor child. In addition to alleging that Mother had refused to allow Father to exercise certain visitation rights, Father alleged that Mother had removed the minor child to Texas. The parties later reached an agreement concerning the parenting issues, and on August 25, 2011, an agreed order was entered prohibiting Mother from removing the minor child [from] Tennessee absent court approval.
Despite the agreed order entered in August of 2011, the friction between the parties continued. Visitation disputes remained a problem and led to further litigation. Once again, however, the parties were able to reach some resolution. Following a successful mediation, the trial court entered an agreed order on June 4, 2013. This agreed order permitted Mother to relocate to Texas with the minor child and outlined certain dates on which Father would have visitation. In relevant part, the June 4, 2013, order provided that Father was entitled to visitation with the minor child "during the summer months with the exception of one week."
According to Father, although his summer visitation with the minor child was scheduled to begin on June 5, 2013, he claims he was unable to exercise that visitation as a result of his inability to locate or communicate with Mother. He further claims that although the trial court held a telephonic conference with the parties' counsel on June 26, 2013, the trial court did not enter an order following the conference and refused to order Mother to comply with the parties' agreed visitation order. Eventually, on July 26, 2013, Father, acting pro se, filed a "Petition for Contempt and Emergency Change of Custody." Despite his efforts to schedule this petition for a hearing before Judge Steve Beal, Father alleges that the trial court refused to hear his petition. Father later retained the assistance of counsel and filed a motion for the entry of a show cause order. Therein, Father requested that Mother appear and show cause why she should not be held in contempt for failing to abide by the agreed order entered on June 4, 2013. Father also gave notice to Mother's counsel that the matter was set for hearing on April 23, 2014.
Father alleges that when his counsel appeared before the trial court to present his motion, Judge Beal refused to hear it. Apparently, Judge Beal indicated he would not hear the motion unless Mother's counsel consented to the hearing or Mother was personally served with process. Father believed that such a requirement was unnecessary in light of the fact that he had properly noticed the motion and served it on Mother's counsel of record. Accordingly, on June 9, 2014, Father filed a complaint for mandamus relief in the Circuit Court of Henderson County. Father also filed a complaint against Judge Beal with the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct on June 13, 2014. Therein, Father alleged that Judge Beal's failure to hear his motion constituted judicial misconduct.
On July 28, 2014, the Circuit Court conducted a hearing on Father's complaint for mandamus relief. Approximately a month later, on August 27, 2014, the Circuit Court entered a writ of mandamus granting Father relief in relation to his motion for the entry of a show cause order. Specifically, the Circuit Court directed Judge Beal to set Father's motion for the entry of a show cause order for hearing.[Footnote 3 states: "As noted by Father, Judge Beal has appealed the order of the Circuit Court that granted mandamus relief. That appeal, In re Adison P., No. W2014–01901–COA–R3–CV, is still pending in this Court." The appeal referenced in Adison I is the instant appeal]. Following the Circuit Court's grant of mandamus relief, Father filed a petition in the trial court requesting that Judge Beal recuse himself from overseeing the ...

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