Remanded by the Supreme Court on October 21, 2019
from the General Sessions Court for Meigs County No. D1738
Casey Mark Stokes, Judge
an accelerated interlocutory appeal pursuant to Tennessee
Supreme Court Rule 10B. Wife sought the trial judge's
recusal on the ground of bias, alleging, among other things,
that her husband-an attorney-appeared regularly in front of
the trial judge and that the two men were friends. The trial
judge's order denied wife's allegations and their
factual basis and denied the motion to recuse. Finding no
evidence of bias that would require the trial judge's
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 Affirmed and Remanded
Meares and Martha Meares, Maryville, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Kara Elizabeth Winder.
Jolley, Jr. and Emma M. Steel, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the
appellee, Donald Eugene Winder, III.
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J.,
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE
and Procedural History
case is before this Court on remand from the Supreme Court of
Tennessee in order to consider the Order Denying Recusal
entered on September 24, 2019 by the Domestic Relations Court
for Meigs County, Tennessee (the "trial court").
Kara Winder ("Wife") had filed a motion to recuse
in the trial court on August 21, 2019, alleging, among other
things, that Donald Winder ("Husband"), a
practicing attorney, regularly appeared before the trial
court judge, Judge Casey Stokes, and that they were good
friends. Winder v. Winder, No.
E2019-01636-COA-T10B-CV, 2019 WL 4702625, at *1 (Tenn. Ct.
App. Sept. 25, 2019) (hereinafter, "Winder
I"). On August 22, 2019, Judge Stokes denied the
motion to recuse in an order in which he failed to set out
his basis for doing so. On September 11, 2019, Wife filed a
Petition for Recusal Appeal with this Court. Id. On
September 25, 2019, based on the August 22, 2019 order in the
record before us at the time, we vacated the trial
court's judgment and remanded the case back to the trial
court, concluding that Judge Stokes made insufficient
findings as to his reasoning for denying Wife's motion as
required by section 1.03 of Supreme Court Rule 10B.
Id. at *2.
October 16, 2019, pursuant to section 2.07 of Rule 10B, Wife
sought permission to appeal this Court's September 25,
2019 order to the Tennessee Supreme Court. In her Accelerated
Application for Permission to Appeal, Wife included the trial
court's September 24, 2019 Order Denying Recusal, in
which Judge Stokes did set out his detailed findings as to
why he denied the motion to recuse and which, as the Supreme
Court correctly noted in its order of remand, "was not
before the Court of Appeals[, ]" in the initial appeal
as it was not included in the record of Wife's previous
September 11, 2019 Petition for Recusal Appeal. The Supreme
Court granted Wife's Accelerated Application for
Permission to Appeal on October 21, 2019 and remanded the
case to this Court "to consider the trial court's
September 24, 2019 Order Denying Recusal." Having now
reviewed the trial court's order of September 24, 2019,
and, for the reasons hereafter stated, we affirm the judgment
of the trial court.
only issue before the Court in this appeal is whether the
trial court erred in denying Wife's motion to recuse. As
we explained in Winder I, the standard of review
applicable to Rule 10B petitions is as follows:
The 2012 adoption of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B
requires appellate courts to review a trial court's
ruling on a motion for recusal under a de novo
standard of review with no presumption of correctness. Tenn.
Sup. Ct. R. 10B, § 2.01. The party seeking recusal bears
the burden of proof, and any alleged bias must arise from