IN RE ESTATE OF JAMES E. MILLER
Assigned on Briefs Date: April 12, 2018
from the General Sessions Court for Monroe County No.
2010-117 Dwaine Thomas, Judge
accelerated interlocutory appeal is taken from the trial
court's denial of Appellant's motion for recusal.
Because we find no evidence of any bias that would require
recusal under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
Sup. Ct. R. 10B Interlocutory Appeal as of Right; Judgment of
the Circuit Court is Affirmed and Remanded.
Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and W. Neal McBrayer, J., joined.
M. Lawhorn, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mechelle
William Cleveland, Sweetwater, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Vickie C. Miller.
case arises from a restated motion to recuse that was filed
in the trial court following the release of In re: Estate
of James E. Miller, No. E2016-01047-COA-R3-CV, 2017 WL
2820084 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 29, 2017) ("Miller
I"). James E. Miller, Decedent, died intestate on
July 17, 2010. Vickie Miller, ("Appellee, " or
"Widow") petitioned the trial court for letters of
administration. At issue was the ownership of Jim Miller
Excavating Company, Inc. ("the Corporation"), the
company operated by the Decedent. Widow argued that she was
the owner of all 1, 000 shares of stock the Corporation
issued to "Jim Miller and Vicky [sic] Miller
JTROS" shortly after the company's incorporation in
April 1990. Id. at *1. Mechelle Miller
("Appellant") and Jamie L. Shannon, Decedent's
daughters and heirs of the estate, argued that the stock
certificate was invalid and that the Corporation's assets
should be part of Decedent's estate. The daughters filed
a copy of the Corporation's bylaws, which stated that
Decedent was the sole shareholder. Id. The trial
court granted Widow's motion for summary judgment.
Mechelle Miller appealed. In Miller I, we held that
there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the
Corporation's directors and incorporators intended the
company to be owned by Decedent and Widow as joint tenants
with rights of survivorship. Id.
remand, Appellant filed a restated motion to recuse, in which
she alleged that the trial court's order granting summary
judgment "demonstrated bias/prejudice, prejudged legal
issues, and misapplied legal principles to such an extent and
degree that recusal is warranted." On March 22, 2018,
the trial court entered an order denying Appellant's
restated motion to recuse. The trial court's order states
in relevant part, that Appellant's motion to recuse
shows no basis under statutory or case law, further, the
court finds that it is common practice for cases to be
remanded from the Court of Appeals to the trial court for
correction or with instructions contrary to the trial
court's original decision. Without showing of a reason
recognized by statute or case law, recusal from a case merely
because of a remand from a superior court creates a
'slippery slope' that could needlessly delay the
administration of the courts and allow forum shopping by
April 11, 2018, Appellant filed a timely appeal. After
reviewing the petition and supporting documents, we have
determined that an answer, additional briefing and oral
argument are unnecessary. Accordingly, we will act summarily
on the appeal in accordance with Tenn. Sup.Ct. R. 10B,
§§ 2.05 and 2.06.