Tennessee divorce case summary.
The husband and wife in this Davidson County, Tennessee, case were married in 2002 and had no children. It was the husband’s second marriage and the wife’s first. The wife filed for divorce in 2016, alleging among other things an attempt on her life.
The husband was incarcerated on charges of soliciting the wife’s first degree murder. He asked for a stay of the divorce proceeding until the criminal case was resolved. He argued that in order to respond to the wife’s allegations, he would need to choose between his right to confront his accuser and his right against self-incrimination. While the case was pending, the husband was charged again with solicitation of murder.
The divorce case was assigned to Judge Philip E. Smith, and the husband also moved to have Judge Smith recused, on the grounds that he was charged with soliciting the murder of his judicial colleague, the judge in the criminal case.
Judge Smith denied all of the motions. He first noted that the husband was mistaken, and he was not charged with soliciting the murder of the criminal judge. Instead, he was charged with soliciting the murder of the first alleged hitman.
Not surprisingly, the wife was granted a divorce on the grounds of inappropriate marital conduct. The trial court classified and divided the marital property, but denied the wife’s request for alimony and attorney fees.
The husband then filed a pro se appeal with the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Even though the wife pointed out that his brief was very deficient, the appeals court addressed all of the issues he raised.
The husband first argued that the trial court should have lifted the automatic injunction so that he could use marital assets to secure his bond. After analyzing the facts, the appeals court held that this argument was without merit.
The husband also argued that the trial court should have stayed the case while the criminal charges were pending. But after reviewing the facts, the appeals court held that the lower court had acted within its discretion in allowing the case to continue.
As to the recusal motion, the appeals court held that the husband had not demonstrated any bias or prejudice. Therefore, there was no error in denying the motion.
The husband also argued that the classification and division of marital property was improper. Here, however, the appeals court held that the issue was not properly preserved. In particular, the husband had failed to provide a proper statement of evidence describing the exact issues raised. Without this, the Court of Appeals needed to uphold the lower court’s ruling.
For these reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling and taxed the costs of appeal against the husband.
No. M2020-00314-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 2, 2020).
TN divorce case doesn’t go well for husband accused of trying to kill wife.
See original opinion for exact language. Legal citations omitted.
To learn more, see The Tennessee Divorce Process: How Divorces Work Start to Finish.
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