I read a lot of appellate opinions on Tennessee family law, far more than make it onto this blog. For the most part, that amounts to what many would consider a rather dry reading list. Appellate judges will occasionally flash a little sarcasm or make a tongue-in-cheek comment, however. When that occurs, it needs to be recognized.
Until someone else steps forward to claim the title, Judge Frank Clement, Jr., of the Court of Appeals, Middle Section, shall reign as the World’s Most Awesome Judge. Here’s why:
Rooney v. Pollan presented as a rather bland divorce appeal. The parties argued over how the trial court divided the marital estate and the award of alimony to Wife. There was nothing bland about oral argument, however. Judge Clement writes:
At oral argument, Wife’s counsel argued that the assets and benefits Wife receives pursuant to the Stock Settlement Agreement are not to be considered in the division of the remaining marital assets and liabilities or, for that matter, alimony. In an attempt to emphasize this point, Wife’s counsel brought two galvanized buckets to court, asserting that the assets and benefits flowing from the Stock Settlement Agreement went into one bucket and all remaining assets are to go into the other bucket. Moreover, he asserted that neither the trial court nor this court may consider the assets or benefits that flowed into the Stock Settlement Agreement bucket. We have concluded that there is a hole in this argument, not to mention the bucket, because the courts are to divide the marital property in an equitable manner; and to do that the courts must have the benefit of the entire estate, or in this case, both buckets, to make an equitable distribution of the marital estate. . . .
When we consider both buckets, Wife is receiving a substantial award of marital property, in fact she is receiving 51% of the marital property. Considering the entirety of the marital estate and the trial court’s division thereof, we find nothing inequitable about this division of the marital estate. . . .
[Regarding alimony,] Wife contends, relying again on the two bucket theory, that the trial court should not have considered her salary under the Stock Settlement Agreement in determining her need for alimony.
Nicely done, Judge Clement. Until one of your colleagues steps forward to claim your crown, you are officially the World’s Most Awesome Judge.
Information provided by K.O. Herston: Knoxville, Tennessee Matrimonial, Divorce and Family Law Attorney.