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A place, such as the territory from which residents are selected to serve as jurors.
A proper place, such as the correct court to hear a case because it has authority over events that have occurred within a certain geographical area.
A basic principle of U.S. law is that a civil or criminal action will be decided by a court in the locality where the dispute or criminal offense occurred. This principle is expressed in the concept of venue. In accordance with this principle a civil action must be started where either the plaintiff or the defendant resides, where the Cause of Action arose, or, if real property is at issue, where the real property is situated. In criminal cases proper venue is in the locality where the crime was committed or where a dead body was discovered.
State and federal venue statutes govern where a case will be tried. State venue statutes list a variety of factors that determine in which county and in which court a lawsuit should be brought, including where the defendant resides, where the defendant does business, where the plaintiff does business, or where the seat of government is located.
A plaintiff may bring his action in any of the places permitted by state law. Most commonly, states allow a lawsuit to be brought in the county where the defendant resides. Choosing the wrong place is not fatal to the plaintiff's action, however. Statutes usually provide that a judgment rendered by a state court is valid even if venue is improper. If a defendant believes the suit is being tried in the wrong venue, she usually must object at the outset of the case, or she will be presumed to have waived the right to object.
In criminal cases the defendant must be tried in the venue where the crime was committed or where the body of a victim was discovered. In extraordinary circumstances, however, a court may grant a change of venue. The request for a change of venue is usually made by the defendant, but it can be made by the prosecutor. The court itself may also initiate the transfer of venue.
Changes of venue are governed by statute, but the court has great discretion in applying the statutory grounds. In Alaska, for example, the law gives the court the ability to move a case from one place to another place within the judicial district or to a place in another judicial district. Reasons for a change of venue in Alaska include the belief that an impartial trial cannot be held or that the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice would be promoted by the change (Alaska Stat. § 22.10.040). The most common reason for a change of venue in criminal cases is Pretrial Publicity that makes it unlikely that an impartial jury could be selected in the community where the crime occurred.
Different rules regulate venue in the federal courts. The federal court system is divided into judicial districts, which can cover an entire state or, in the case of populous states, only a portion of the state. The federal venue statute (28 U.S.C.A. § 1391) refers to these districts in the way state venue statutes refer to counties. Except when a special law applies to a particular type of case, proper venue is determined by the factor that allows the case to be brought in federal court.
If the court derives its authority because the plaintiffs and defendants are residents of different states (known as diversity jurisdiction), then the proper venue is the judicial district where all the plaintiffs or all the defendants reside or the district where the claim arose. In lawsuits where the federal court has jurisdiction because a question of federal law is involved (known as federal question jurisdiction), venue lies only in the district where all the defendants reside or where the claim arose.
Venue and the Oklahoma City Bombing Case
Trial judges are generally reluctant to grant a defendant's request for a change of venue in a criminal trial. A change of venue is inconvenient to the trial participants and is often financially costly. Nevertheless, when a judge believes that a defendant cannot receive a fair trial in the place where the crime was committed, he can order that the trial be moved to another location.
The attorneys for Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols, who were charged in federal court with the April 19, 1995 bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that resulted in the deaths of 168 people, sought a change of venue from Oklahoma City. The defense attorneys argued that there was substantial prejudice against McVeigh and Nichols in Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma, making it impossible for them to receive a fair and impartial trial.
In an order issued on February 20, 1996, Judge Richard P. Matsch agreed. The news coverage of the events surrounding the bombing, its aftermath, and the arrest of McVeigh and Nichols had been extensive in Oklahoma. Matsch noted that the Oklahoma news media had "demonized" the defendants and run news stories suggesting that they had been associated with right-wing militia groups. Because the defendants had been charged with capital crimes, Matsch was concerned that Oklahoma jurors would not be able to set aside their prejudices and emotions to determine first whether the defendants were guilty or innocent and then, if found guilty, whether they deserved to be executed.
Therefore, Matsch ordered a change of venue to Denver, Colorado. Though he acknowledged that the victims of the bombing wished to attend the trials and that a change of venue would cause them hardship, Matsch concluded that the "interests of the victims in being able to attend this trial in Oklahoma are outweighed by the court's obligation to assure that the trial be conducted with fundamental fairness and with due regard for all constitutional requirements."
In June 1997 McVeigh was found guilty of bombing the federal building and was sentenced to death. Nichols's trial began in October 1997.
Hoffman, David. 1998. The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror. Venice, Calif.: Feral House.
Special statutes set different rules for admiralty, patent, and Interpleader lawsuits and lawsuits in which the United States is a party. An alien can be sued in any district in the United States, but if the alien is a defendant along with citizens, venue lies where all the citizens reside. A case transferred by removal from a state court to a federal court goes to the federal court in the district where the State Action was started.
Casad, Robert C. 1999. Jurisdiction and Forum Selection. 2d ed. Eagan, Minn: West Group.
Clermont, Kevin M. 1999. Civil Procedure: Territorial Jurisdiction and Venue. New York: Foundation Press.
Davies, Martin. 2003. "Forum Selection Clauses in Maritime Cases." Tulane Maritime Law Journal 27 (summer).
Ryan, Antony L. 2003. "Principles of Forum Selection." Defense Law Journal 52 (spring).
n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for trial of a case. Normally, the venue in a criminal case is the judicial district or county where the crime was committed. For civil cases, venue is usually the district or county which is the residence of a principal defendant, where a contract was executed or is to be performed, or where an accident took place. However, the parties may agree to a different venue for convenience (such as where most witnesses are located). Sometimes a lawsuit is filed in a district or county which is not the proper venue, and if the defendant immediately objects (asks for a change of venue), the court will order transfer of the case to the proper venue. Example: a promissory note states that any suit for collection must be filed in Washington County, Indiana, and the case is filed in Lake County, Indiana. In high profile criminal cases the original venue may be considered not the best venue due to possible prejudice stemming from pre-trial publicity in the area or public sentiment about the case which might impact upon potential jurors. For these various reasons either party may move (ask) for a change of venue, which is up to the discretion of a judge in the court where the case or prosecution was originally filed. Venue is not to be confused with "jurisdiction," which establishes the right to bring a lawsuit (often anywhere within a state) whether or not it is the most convenient or appropriate location. (See: forum non conveniens)
VENUE, pleading. The venue is the county from which the jury are to come,
who are to try the issue. Gould, Pl. c. 3, Sec. 102; Archb. Civ. Pl. 86.
2. As it is a general rule, that the place of every traversable fact stated in the pleadings must be distinctly alleged, or at least that some certain place must be alleged for every such fact, it follows that a venue must be stated in every declaration.
3. In local actions, in which the subject or thing to be recovered is local, the true venue must be laid; that is, the action must be brought in that county where the cause of action arose: among these are all real actions, and actions which arise out of some local subject, or the violation of some local rights or interest; as the common law action of waste, trespass quare clausum fregit, trespass for nuisances to houses or lands disturbance of right of way, obstruction or diversion of ancient water courses, &c. Com. Dig. Action, N 4; Bac. Abr. Actions Local, A a.
4. In a transitory action, the plaintiff may lay the venue in any county he pleases; that is, he may bring suit wherever he may find the defendant and lay his cause of action to have arisen there even though the cause of action arose in a foreign jurisdiction. Cowp. 161; Cro. Car. 444; 9 Johns. R. 67; Steph. Pl. 306; 1 Chitty, Pl. 273; Archb. Civ. Pl. 86. Vide, generally, Chit. Pl. Index, h.t.; Steph. Pl. Index, h.t.; Tidd's Pr. Index, h.t.; Graham's Practice, Index, h.t.; Com. Dig. Abatement, H 13; Id. Action, N 13; Id. Amendment, H 1 Id. Pleader, S 9; 21 Vin. Ab. 85 to 169 1 Vern. 178; Yelv. 12 a; Bac. Ab. Actions, Local and Transitory, B; Local Actions; Transitory Actions.