Holden v. Frasher-Holden, FRASHER-HOLDEN

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBefore DAN LEE; McRAE; DAN LEE; PITTMAN
Citation680 So.2d 795
PartiesJerry W. HOLDEN v. Julie M.
Docket NumberFRASHER-HOLDEN,No. 94-CA-00013-SCT,94-CA-00013-SCT
Decision Date05 September 1996

Page 795

680 So.2d 795
No. 94-CA-00013-SCT.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Sept. 5, 1996.

Page 796

Woodrow W. Pringle, III, Gulfport, for appellant.

Walter W. Teel, Meadows Riley Koennen & Teel, Gulfport, for appellee.

Before DAN LEE, C.J., and McRAE and SMITH, JJ.

McRAE, Justice, for the Court.

This case arises from a December 2, 1993, order of the Harrison County Chancery Court granting Julie M. Frasher-Holden a divorce from Jerry W. Holden on grounds of adultery and awarding her past due spousal support, alimony and attorney fees and dismissing Jerry's complaint for divorce. Jerry asserts that the evidence presented merely gives rise to a suspicion of adultery and thus, the chancellor erred in granting Julie a divorce on those grounds. He does not challenge the awards of past due support, periodic alimony or attorney fees. Finding that there is sufficient evidence of infatuation and the opportunity to satisfy that infatuation, we affirm the decision of the chancery court.


Julie and Jerry Holden were married in Springfield, Missouri, on September 6, 1978. Although both have children from prior marriages, no children were born of this union. The couple separated in April, 1992, in Gulfport, Mississippi.

On April 12, 1992, Jerry filed a Complaint for Divorce in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Harrison County. He sought a divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences, pursuant to Miss.Code Ann. § 93-5-2, or, in the alternative, habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, pursuant to Miss.Code Ann. § 93-5-1. Julie filed an answer and counterclaim on May 26, 1992, seeking separate maintenance, or in the alternative, a divorce on grounds of adultery, or, again, in the alternative, irreconcilable differences. She further requested temporary support and attorney fees, as well as lump sum and periodic alimony. On July 21, 1992, the chancellor ordered Jerry to pay temporary support for the months of July, August, and September, 1992. An order finding Jerry in contempt for failure to comply with the support order, as well as failure to appear before the court, was entered on September 9, 1992.

Page 797

A hearing was held on December 2, 1993. Julie testified that she was not aware that Jerry was unhappy. Upon returning from a visit to her mother's home in Arkansas, however, she was served with divorce papers. The next day, she found her telephone and car phone disconnected and an order entered to turn off her utilities.

Checking over the bills in the mailbox, Julie discovered many phone calls to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She testified:

So when I got that phone bill I saw that Tuscaloosa number so I called it and it was a lady that came on an answering machine and I thought, well, now that wouldn't be a motel or something, I don't think, so I called again. Mr. Holden answered the phone and I said who is this. He said this is Jerry.

Q. Did you recognize his voice?

A. Yes, sir. He said who is this? I said this is your wife. He said how did you get this number? I said off of the phone bill. And I just talked to him for a minute. He talked ugly, you know. He said I'll see you in court. I said that's fine. I'll look forward to it.

She got the name and address of the party with the phone number in question from a telephone operator, and at some time later, drove to Tuscaloosa to check out the house and talk with the neighbors. On another occasion, she testified, she saw Jerry pull out of the garage of the house in his red pick-up truck with the woman who lived there, Bonnie Robbins.

Julie further testified that when she and her friend, Francis Acock, saw Jerry's Airstream travel trailer parked at the Red Barn Campground on Highway 49 shortly after he filed for divorce, they decided to stop and get her summer things. Inside the trailer, she found:

The closet was full of women's clothes, women's underwear was in the drawers where I kept my stuff. His stuff was in there. Her curling iron and things--all things like that were in there. All of my bedspreads, everything like that had been removed and apparently, you know, looked like probably her stuff because it was pink. I don't think it would belong to him.

She also found cards from Bonnie addressed to "my husband to be" and "my dear Jerry W."

Sheila Ray testified that she saw Jerry with his arm around Bonnie at a car show in July, 1991, but had not told Julie because "[t]hat is not a thing a hairdresser does."

In his deposition, Jerry, who did not appear at the hearing, stated that Bonnie had spent the night in the trailer five or six times and that he had spent the night at her house, but denied having had sexual relations with her. He admitted that they had kissed, hugged and danced. He denied that the two had a "love affair," instead characterizing their relationship as a "close friendship." Throughout his deposition, Jerry often evaded counsel's questions, testifying, for example:

Q. [by Mr. Teel] I'm not trying to trick you about that. Have you ever talked to Bonnie about potential plans for the two of you to get married?

A. It's been discussed.

Q. Is she a nice person?

A. Yes, she is.

Q. You obviously care about her.

A. Yes.

Q. You have expressed love and caring for her and she has expressed love and caring for you, is that correct?

A. Her whole family has, yes.

Q. I'm talking about her in particular.

A. Yes.

Q. That would be true, wouldn't it?

A. Yes.

* * * * * *

Q. Yes, sir. You've told us that you care about her and you love her. When did this love...

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