Appeal

Failure to Provide Transcript or Statement of the Evidence

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion. 

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Opinions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Self v. Self, No. E2021-0030-COA-R3-CV, p. 10-11 (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 1, 2022).

It is well settled that in cases where no transcript or statement of the evidence is filed, the appellate court is required to presume that the record, had it been properly preserved, would have supported the action of the trial court. See Fayne v. Vincent, 301 S.W.3d 162, 169-70 (Tenn. 2009) (“[W]hen an issue of sufficiency of the evidence is raised on appeal, we must presume, in the absence of a record of the proceedings, that the transcript or statement of the evidence, had it been included in the record, would have contained sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s factual conclusions.”); Reinhardt v. Neal, 241 S.W.3d 472, 477 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007) (explaining that in the absence of a transcript or statement of the evidence, the appellate court had to presume that the evidence supported the trial court’s findings and ultimate conclusion that there was a failure of proof); Sherrod v. Wix, 849 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992) (“This court cannot review the facts de novo without an appellate record containing the facts, and therefore, we must assume that the record, had it been preserved, would have contained sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s factual findings.”). Furthermore,  this Court has held that “the burden is . . . on the appellant to provide the Court with a transcript of the evidence or a statement of the evidence . . . .” Outdoor Mgmt., LLC v. Thomas, 249 S.W.3d 368, 377 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007) (noting the “conclusive presumption that there was sufficient evidence before the trial court to support its judgment” if no transcript or statement of the evidence is submitted).

 

Jones v. Jones, No. M2021-00788-COA-R3-CV, p. 9 fn. 4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 23, 2022).

Generally, “in the absence of a transcript or statement of the evidence, there is a conclusive presumption that there was sufficient evidence before the Trial Court to support its judgment.” Outdoor Mgmt. LLC v. Thomas, 249 S.W.3d 368, 377 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007). However, in cases where a transcript is not present, we may examine “those issues where appellate review is not hindered by the absence of a transcript or statement of the evidence.” Am. Express Centurion Bank v. Lowrey, No. E2011-01247-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 937831, at *4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 11, 2013). In those circumstances, “we are limited to addressing those issues which raise pure questions of law, as well as any issues challenging the trial judge’s application of the law to the facts as stated by the judge himself in his memorandum opinions.” Gross v. McKenna, No. E2005- 02488-COA-R3-CV, 2007 WL 3171155, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 30, 2007). Whether the chancery court applied the appropriate legal standard, is a question of law which we can review without a transcript or statement of the evidence.

 

Haynes v. Haynes,  No. W2021-01004-COA-R3-CV, p. 6 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 26, 2022) (memorandum opinion).

The appellant bears the burden of providing this Court with a transcript or statement of the evidence from which we can determine if the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s factual findings. Coakley v. Daniels, 840 S.W.2d 367, 370 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992); see also Greer v. Cobble, No. E2015-01378-COA-R3-CV, 2016 WL 2898001, at *4 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 11, 2016). Husband has failed to carry this burden. Accordingly, we do not have a fair, accurate, and complete account of what transpired with respect to the issues he raises, leaving us no way to evaluate his assertion that the evidence contradicted the trial court’s findings. See Britt v. Chambers, No. W2006-00061-COA-R3-CV, 2007 WL 177902, at *3 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 25, 2007) (“Without a transcript of statement of the evidence, the appellate court cannot know what evidence was presented to the trial court, and there is no means by which we can evaluate the appellant’s assertion that the evidence did not support the trial court’s decision.”). “In the absence of a transcript or statement of the evidence, there is a conclusive presumption that there was sufficient evidence before the trial court to support its judgment, and this Court must therefore affirm the judgment.” Coakley, 840 S.W.2d at 370. That is to say, “‘we must conclusively presume that every fact admissible under the pleadings was found or should have been found in favor of the Appellee.’” Chandler, 2012 WL 2393698, at *9 (quoting Britt, 2007 WL 177902, at *3).

Nelson v. Justice, No. E2020-01172-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 24, 2022).

“When a trial court decides a case without a jury, its findings of fact are presumed to be correct unless the evidence in the record preponderates against them.” Sherrod v. Wix, 849 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992) (citing Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d)). Notably, there is neither a transcript nor a statement of the evidence in the record on appeal in this case. “The absence of either a transcript or a statement of the evidence significantly ties the hands of the appellate court.” Hardin, 2012 WL 6727533, at *4 (quoting Chandler v. Chandler, No. W2010-01503-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 2393698, at *6 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 26, 2012)). “Without an appellate record containing the facts, this court cannot perform a de novo review or determine the preponderance of the evidence.” Id. (citing Sherrod, 849 S.W.2d at 783). Therefore, in like situations, we generally “assume that the record, had it been preserved, would have contained sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s factual findings.” Sherrod, 849 S.W.2d at 783 (citing McDonald v. Onoh, 772 S.W.2d 913, 914 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1989); Irvin v. City of Clarksville, 767 S.W.2d 649, 653 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1987); Gotten v. Gotten, 748 S.W.2d 430, 432 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1988)). Unfortunately, as in the earlier parenting time issue, the trial court did not articulate any factual findings relative to the factors in Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-5-121, and Wife’s failure to file either a transcript or a statement of the evidence “does not vitiate the trial court’s failure to make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law.” Hardin, 2012 WL 6727533, at *5. Although “appellate review is sometimes possible in the absence of a transcript or statement of the evidence,” such review is made possible only when there exist “appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law.” Id. Here, because the trial court has failed to provide findings of fact and conclusions of law in its final decree, we are unable to facilitate appellate review.

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