Decide Not Recused for Suggesting Husband Ought to Be in Drug Court docket

Tennessee case abstract on judicial recusal in divorce.

Roger Scott Austermiller v. Penny Smith Austermiller

Judicial recusal mentioned.

In the course of the course of this Williamson County, Tennessee, divorce case, the trial decide, Chancellor Deanna Bell Johnson, after the husband failed a court-ordered drug take a look at, commented that if she might put the husband in a two-year drug court docket program, she would.  However sadly, she went on, that was not attainable, for the reason that drug court docket was just for prison instances.

The husband made a movement for the decide to be recused, and this was denied.  In denying the movement, the decide acknowledged that she made these solutions in order that the daddy might get nicely, beat his dependancy, and be a father to his two kids.  The court docket additionally discovered that the movement was made for an improper function, to delay the litigation.

The husband then introduced a right away attraction to the Tennessee Court docket of Appeals.

The failed drug take a look at occurred throughout a court docket continuing by which it was “blatantly apparent” that the husband was intoxicated.  The court docket positioned the husband beneath oath and requested he would go a drug display.  The court docket despatched the husband for a take a look at and he failed.  He was held in contempt and ordered to jail.  In the course of the reserving course of, fentanyl was present in his possession.

The appeals court docket acknowledged the usual of assessment, and famous that the get together in search of recusal bears the burden of proof.  After reviewing the transcript, the appeals court docket agreed that an inexpensive particular person would conclude that the decide’s remarks expressed her intent to assist the husband take care of his drug dependancy, slightly than punish him.  It famous that the decide’s feedback had been suggestions for his lawyer to debate the matter with the prison protection lawyer within the husband’s case.  In sum, the Court docket of Appeals concluded that the husband had not met his burden of proof.

The appeals court docket did, nonetheless, maintain that the movement was not filed for an improper function.  However for the reason that husband had not met his burden of proof, the decrease court docket’s order was affirmed.

For these causes, the Court docket of Appeals affirmed, remanded, and assessed the prices of attraction towards the husband.

No. M2022-01611-COA-T10B-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 5, 2022).

See unique opinion for actual language.  Authorized citations omitted.

To be taught extra, see The Tennessee Divorce Course of: How Divorces Work Begin to End.