Stanley Don Runyon v. Melanie Fortner Runyon
This is a Rule 10B appeal of the denial of a petition for recusal. In this divorce case, the trial court bifurcated the issues and conducted a 15-day evidentiary hearing solely on the parties’ parenting arrangement. Months later, the trial court entered an order designating the father as the primary residential parent and giving the mother supervised parenting time. The mother was denied permission for an interlocutory appeal from the parenting order. Several months after that, the mother discovered that, in the course of drafting the parenting order, the trial judge’s office had an ex parte exchange with the guardian ad litem to confirm a minor factual matter. The mother alleged that the trial judge had violated ethical rules against such ex parte communications and filed a motion asking the trial judge to recuse herself. The trial court denied the motion to recuse. The mother filed this accelerated interlocutory appeal of the denial of her recusal motion pursuant to Rule 10B of the Tennessee Supreme Court Rules. We decline to adjudicate whether there was a breach of any ethical rules. As to the trial judge’s denial of the motion for recusal, we affirm.