On Friday, May 19, 2023, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville affirmed the judgment of the trial court to deny the motion for recusal filed by the complainant against Circuit Court Judge of the 26th Circuit Court Division I in Tennessee, Senior Judge Roy B. Morgan alleging that the latter demonstrated bias against the petitioner by repeatedly ruling against him.

The case is entitled “Christopher L. Wiesmueller v. Corrine Oliver, et al.” with case no. M2023-00651-COA-T10B-CV.

On May 5, 2023, Christopher Lee Wiesmueller, the petitioner, submitted a petition for recusal appeal. The purpose of the appeal is to challenge the ruling of Senior Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr., who denied Wiesmueller’s motion for recusal. The core of the petitioner’s motion contended that Judge Morgan exhibited a bias toward the petitioner through consistent rulings against him.

The filing states:

“After Attorney Hendrickson’s affirmatively stated her clients would not attend and would not reschedule, only then did I cancel the depositions. I then filed a motion for discovery sanctions on January 10, 2023. Judge Morgan denied my motion for sanctions and frankly ignored that I had even asked for alternative relief to order them to sit for depositions. Regardless, Judge Morgan allowed Attorney Baker, counsel for the defendants to proceed on Rule 12. Then took an oral Rule 12 motion to dismiss Claim #5. A written motion is required according to Tenn. Rule Civ Pro. R. 12.02. 26 . Judge Morgan began hearing the motion, before asking if I had ever filed a response previously. I was then required to email my 2021 response. This is even more troubling because part of my 2021 response was to incorporate the summary judgment motions.”

The filing continues:

“Judge Morgan’s bias is so pervasive, such as to ridicule a pro se party for not filing a draft order, but allowing a licensed attorney to proceed improperly on an oral Rule 12 motion to dismiss a claim. Likewise, opposing counsel can lie to the Court repeatedly and does not have to follow discovery rules. Judge Morgan doesn’t let me explain or finish speaking. He jumps to conclusions about what he thinks I am saying and does not let me finish speaking. He also has failed to enforce basic rules of civil procedure and the Rule 12 dismissal standards.”

The filing further states:

“Judge Morgan has undermined the integrity of the proceedings by permitting opposing counsel and the opposing party to make false statements of fact in this and a related matter, without any repercussions.

Furthermore, Judge Morgan has caused a reasonable basis to question his impartiality, based on the foregoing issue of permitting the opposing party to make false representations without recourse, but also ‘the cumulative effect of the repeated misapplication of fundamental, rudimentary legal principles that favor one party substantively and procedurally.”

Likewise, Judge Morgan has made apparent on more than one occasion that he apparently does not have the entire case file with him in his offices in Jackson.”

In relation to the allegations, the court explained u that the mere occurrence of a judge ruling unfavorably towards a party or witness does not automatically warrant recusal. In the context of litigation, where an adversarial environment exists, it is inherent for trial judges to evaluate the credibility of those presenting testimony, whether in person or through alternative methods. Consequently, if a witness feels offended by the court’s assessment, it does not provide a valid reason to request the judge’s disqualification. Otherwise, recusal would become a routine practice since trial courts routinely make rulings against parties and witnesses in every case. Allowing litigants to exploit the impartiality issue for strategic advantages would be disapproved of by the courts.

Having reviewed the adverse rulings and other facts upon which the petitioner bases his claim of bias, the court found no basis upon which to conclude that a person of ordinary prudence in Judge Morgan’s position, knowing all of the facts known to the judge, would find a reasonable basis for questioning his impartiality.

The Disposition states:

“The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. Costs of appeal are assessed against Petitioner Christopher Lee Wiesmueller, for which execution may issue.”

Judge Morgan Jr. attended the University of Memphis.

Judge Morgan Jr sits as a Circuit Court Judge of the 26th Circuit Court Division I in Tennessee located at 515 S. Liberty St. Suite 200 Jackson, TN 38301. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.