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Veard v. Veard

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 16, 2017

MINDY LEIGH VEARD
v.
EDWARD EUGENE VEARD, JR.

          Assigned May 9, 2017

         Interlocutory Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 16D193 Philip E. Smith, Judge

         This accelerated interlocutory appeal arises from the trial court's denial of a motion for recusal. After carefully reviewing the trial court's ruling pursuant to the de novo standard of review required under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we affirm the decision of the trial court denying the motion for recusal.

         Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B Interlocutory Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed and Remanded

          Erin Alexander White, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edward Eugene Veard, Jr.,

          David Scott Parsley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mindy Leigh Veard.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Richard H. Dinkins, and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE.

         I. Facts & Procedural History

         On April 7, 2017, the trial court in this case conducted a hearing on a "Motion to Strike the Inchoate Acknowledgement on the Marital Dissolution Agreement as Invalid and Dismiss the Marital Dissolution Agreement as Void Ab Initio, " which was filed by Defendant/Appellant Edward Eugene Veard. According to the Appellant's brief, this motion was filed in response to a criminal contempt petition filed on behalf of Appellee Mindy Veard. Appellant argued in the trial court that he did not sign a Marital Dissolution Agreement that was attached to the criminal contempt petition, never received a copy of the final decree of divorce, and that the Marital Dissolution Agreement was not properly notarized.[1]

         At the hearing, after Appellant testified, the trial court judge, Judge Philip E. Smith, made the following statements:

Mr. Veard, I think I alluded to this fact the last time you all were here. When this case is over and I rule, I'm going to go back in my chambers and I'm going to pick up the phone and I'm going to call Glenn Funk who is the District Attorney. . . . And I'm going to turn somebody over to the District Attorney - for aggravated perjury charges, for obstruction of justice, and I'm going to demand that they be prosecuted. . . . Now, this is your time if you want to change anything you have said, either in the December hearing or in today's hearing, this is your time to change it.

         These statements from the trial judge are the sole basis for Appellant's motion to recuse in the trial court and this appeal. Appellant argues that the trial court's statement "was a threat - a threat of criminal prosecution in a civil matter." He goes on to argue that the "threat, the timing of the threat, and the fact that such statements were not made to the other party indicate bias and prejudice and give an appearance of bias and prejudice."

         The trial court denied the Appellant's motion to recuse in a written order, and the trial court judge noted that he did "recall making a similar statement to both parties in a hearing in ...


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