Assigned on Briefs March 10, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Williamson County No. 44288
Michael Binkley, Judge.
the trial court denied Wife's motion to set aside the
mediated Marital Dissolution Agreement and Permanent
Parenting Plan and entered its order declaring the parties
divorced, Wife filed a motion seeking recusal of the trial
judge. The judge denied the motion, and Wife timely filed her
petition for recusal appeal seeking an interlocutory appeal
as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from
the trial court's denial of her motion. We affirm the
trial court's decision to deny the motion for recusal.
R. App. P. 10B Interlocutory Appeal as of Right; Judgment of
the Chancery Court Affirmed.
Heldman and Joanie Abernathy, Franklin, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Rhonda Forlaw Adkins.
Hayes, Jr. and Rachel M. Thomas, Nashville, Tennessee, for
the appellee, Tracy Darrell Adkins.
G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Thomas R. Frierson, II and Brandon O. Gibson,
G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S.
Forlaw Adkins ("Wife") filed a complaint for
divorce on March 24, 2014, against Tracy Darrell Adkins
("Husband"). The parties settled the case in
mediation in May 2015 and signed a Marital Dissolution
Agreement ("MDA") and Permanent Parenting Plan
("Parenting Plan"). Shortly thereafter, Wife filed
a motion to set aside the MDA and Parenting Plan. On January
7, 2017, after extensive discovery, numerous interim motions,
hearings on the motions, and a two-day trial on the motion to
set aside the agreements, the trial court entered a final
order denying Wife's motion and declaring the parties
February 2017, Wife filed a motion seeking recusal of the
trial judge pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B. The
judge denied the motion, and Wife filed a Petition for
Recusal Appeal pursuant to Rule 10B. Along with her petition
she filed a motion seeking to have all documents filed under
seal, including the petition, appendices, and this
court's orders and opinion. The motion was denied.
Because the trial court had placed all documents from the
trial court proceedings under seal, Wife was of the
impression this court would do the same. Therefore, we
afforded Wife the option of withdrawing her petition and
filing a supplemental petition, which she did. At the request
of this court, Husband filed a response and both parties
appeal, Wife seeks not only to reverse the trial court's
February 16, 2017 order denying her Rule 10B Motion for
Recusal or Disqualification of Judge Binkley from all further
proceedings, she also asks this court to vacate the
Memorandum and Order entered on January 7, 2017, and the
amended order entered on January 26, 2017.
response, Husband states:
This case is a simple one. It involves a woman trying to get
out of the Marital Dissolution Agreement and Parenting Plan
that she signed in May 2015 simply because she changed her
mind and didn't want to lose her " celebrity
spouse" status. The trial court below allowed Ms. Adkins
every opportunity over a period of nineteen months to pursue
and advance an endless array of arguments, no matter how
ridiculous or absurd, in her effort to get out of either
agreement, but ultimately found after a full hearing that
both agreements should be enforced and that these parties
should be divorced, which they were on January 7, 2017 by
entry of a Final Decree of Divorce. Ms. Adkins is simply
upset at the result and is claiming that the judge must have
been biased because he found her totally uncredible, ruled
against her in his order, and is now making her pay Mr.
Adkins' attorneys' fees for having to endure nineteen
months of delay and needless litigation.
Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B Appeals
to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, section 2.01, a party is
entitled to an accelerated interlocutory appeal as of right
from an order denying a motion for disqualification or
recusal. The appeal is effected by filing a "petition
for recusal appeal." Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B, § 2.02.
only order we may review in a Rule 10B appeal is the trial
court's order denying a motion to recuse. We may not
review the merits of the trial court's other rulings.
See Tenn. R. Sup. Ct. R. 10B.
determine that an answer is needed, we may require an answer
and further briefing by the parties. Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B,
§ 2.06. The rule also grants this court the discretion
to decide the appeal without oral argument. Id.
Having reviewed Wife's petition, Husband's answer,
and the appendices, we have determined that oral argument is
unnecessary and elect to ...