State v. Sliger

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtANDERSON; REID
Citation846 S.W.2d 262
PartiesSTATE of Tennessee, Appellee, v. William Joseph SLIGER, Appellant.
Decision Date19 January 1993

Page 262

846 S.W.2d 262
STATE of Tennessee, Appellee,
v.
William Joseph SLIGER, Appellant.
Supreme Court of Tennessee,
at Nashville.
Jan. 19, 1993.

Anita M. Holden, Jerry D. Hunt, Lebanon, for appellant.

Charles W. Burson, Atty. Gen. & Reporter, John B. Nisbet, III, Asst. Atty. Gen., Nashville, for appellee.

OPINION

ANDERSON, Justice.

We granted this appeal to determine whether our flagrant nonsupport felony statute applies to a nonresident who has never resided in Tennessee. The defendant, William J. Sliger, a Texas resident, was indicted by a Wilson County grand jury for the violation of the flagrant nonsupport statute, which provides that the offense is committed when a person leaves or remains without the state to avoid a legal duty of support. The trial court held that the State did not have jurisdiction and quashed the indictment. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the trial court, construing the statute as containing no requirement that a nonsupporting parent first leave the state in order to be "remain[ing] without the state." We disagree and conclude that the statutory language "remains without the state" is not applicable to a nonsupporting parent who has never resided in Tennessee. We, therefore, affirm the trial court's judgment of dismissal on the separate grounds stated.

Page 263

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The defendant, William Sliger, and Sandra Sliger were married in Texas in 1976, and lived in Texas with their two children all their married life. Although the exact date is not clear from this sparse record, 1 Sandra Sliger at some point moved alone from Texas to Tennessee with their children. Thereafter, she filed for divorce in Tennessee and served the defendant with process under the long-arm statute. The defendant did not appear, and she was granted the divorce and child support by default. The defendant did not reside and had never even visited in Tennessee. The specific details are not in the record; however, it is undisputed that the defendant failed to comply with the order of child support. After attempts to enforce the order under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act ("U.R.E.S.A.") in Texas were unsuccessful, the defendant was indicted for flagrant nonsupport under Tenn.Code Ann. § 39-15-101(d)(1) (1991).

The defendant moved to quash the indictment for lack of jurisdiction. At the hearing on the motion, his counsel argued that the phrase in the statute, "or remains without the state," does not contemplate a situation where the nonsupporting parent has never resided in, nor even visited, Tennessee, and contended that a nonresident parent who has never lived in Tennessee cannot be prosecuted for flagrant nonsupport under the statute. Based upon that argument, the trial judge quashed the indictment and dismissed the case. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed and reinstated the indictment, construing the statute as containing no requirement that a nonsupporting parent first leave this state in order to be classified as "remain[ing] without the state."

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION

Our role in construing statutes is to ascertain and carry out the legislative intent without unduly restricting or expanding the statute's coverage beyond its intended scope. See Davenport v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 818 S.W.2d 23, 27 (Tenn.App.1991). It is also our duty to adopt a construction which will sustain a statute and avoid constitutional conflict if any reasonable construction exists that satisfies the requirements of the Constitution. State v. Lyons, 802 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Tenn.1990); Shelby County Election Comm'n v. Turner, 755 S.W.2d 774, 777 (Tenn.1988); Kirk v. State, 126 Tenn. 7, 10, 150 S.W. 83, 84 (1911).

The statute to be construed--Tenn.Code Ann. § 39-15-101--provides in pertinent part that:

(a) A person commits the crime of nonsupport who fails to provide support which that person is able to provide and knows he has a...

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114 practice notes
  • Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Inc. v. McWherter, DAVIS-KIDD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • November 8, 1993
    ...avoid constitutional conflict if any reasonable construction exists that satisfies the requirements of the Constitution. State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993); State v. Lyons, 802 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Tenn.1990); Shelby County Election Comm'n v. Turner, 755 S.W.2d 774, 777 (Tenn.1988......
  • Planned Parenthood v Sunquist, 96-00060
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 15, 2000
    ...avoid constitutional conflict if any reasonable construction exists that satisfies the requirements of the Constitution. State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn. 1993); State v. Lyons, 802 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Tenn. 1990); Shelby County Election Comm'n v. Turner, 755 S.W.2d 774, 777 (Tenn. 1......
  • Cohen v. Cohen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 16, 1996
    ...or expanding a statute's coverage beyond its intended scope." Wilson v. Johnson County, 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn.1994); State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993). If possible, we must determine the legislative intent from the plain language of the statute, "read in the context of th......
  • In re Adoption of AMH, No. W2004-01225-COA-R3-PT (TN 11/23/2005), No. W2004-01225-COA-R3-PT.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • November 23, 2005
    ...v. Aramark Educ. Res., Inc., 90 S.W.3d 676, 678 (Tenn. 2002) (quoting Owens v. State, 908 S.W.2d 923, 926 (Tenn. 1995); State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn. 1993)). Legislative intent is derived from the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language unless the statute is ambig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
114 cases
  • Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Inc. v. McWherter, DAVIS-KIDD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • November 8, 1993
    ...avoid constitutional conflict if any reasonable construction exists that satisfies the requirements of the Constitution. State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993); State v. Lyons, 802 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Tenn.1990); Shelby County Election Comm'n v. Turner, 755 S.W.2d 774, 777 (Tenn.1988......
  • Planned Parenthood v Sunquist, 96-00060
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 15, 2000
    ...avoid constitutional conflict if any reasonable construction exists that satisfies the requirements of the Constitution. State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn. 1993); State v. Lyons, 802 S.W.2d 590, 592 (Tenn. 1990); Shelby County Election Comm'n v. Turner, 755 S.W.2d 774, 777 (Tenn. 1......
  • Cohen v. Cohen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • September 16, 1996
    ...or expanding a statute's coverage beyond its intended scope." Wilson v. Johnson County, 879 S.W.2d 807, 809 (Tenn.1994); State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn.1993). If possible, we must determine the legislative intent from the plain language of the statute, "read in the context of th......
  • In re Adoption of AMH, No. W2004-01225-COA-R3-PT (TN 11/23/2005), No. W2004-01225-COA-R3-PT.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • November 23, 2005
    ...v. Aramark Educ. Res., Inc., 90 S.W.3d 676, 678 (Tenn. 2002) (quoting Owens v. State, 908 S.W.2d 923, 926 (Tenn. 1995); State v. Sliger, 846 S.W.2d 262, 263 (Tenn. 1993)). Legislative intent is derived from the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language unless the statute is ambig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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