"Change of Venue" is the legal term for transferring a case to another venue, such as a court in a different city. In civil cases, the "venue" is often the district or county where the principal defendant lives or regularly conducts business. In criminal cases, venue is usually where the crime was allegedly committed. Parties to a case may request a change of venue for several reasons. For example, a contract may require cases to be considered in a particular venue. Asking the court for this change is done by making a "motion."
Ensure You Have a Valid Reason
Review the reason for your venue change request. You must have a valid reason to make the request. For example, a particular court may not have jurisdiction over the parties or the subject matter.
Obtain Venue Change Forms
Obtain "Change of Venue" papers from the clerk at the court where the case was originally filed. Avoid downloading forms from third-party internet sources, as they may not be correct versions.
Complete the Forms
Fill out the forms. Although the forms will differ depending on the court from which you request them, you will generally have an official motion request, a form to explain the reason for the request, a form certifying that you provided a copy to other parties to the case and a form to set a hearing date on the request, among others.
Review the Forms with an Attorney
Review the completed forms with your attorney, if possible. The attorney will recommend changes and offer you advice on filing the documents.
File the Forms with the Court Clerk
Make at least three copies of each document. File all of the originals with the court clerk. Ask the clerk, upon filing, how much time you have to serve a copy of these documents to other parties in the case and how to do so.
Follow the clerk's instructions immediately and accurately. Other parties have a right to know if you are requesting a change of venue and the rationale for the request.
Obtain a Hearing Date
Obtain a hearing date from the court clerk. The clerk likely will give you a date when you file the original forms. Alternatively, the clerk will tell you when you will receive a hearing date. You will also receive instructions for the hearing.
For example, you may be required to confirm the hearing. Consult your attorney again for guidance once you file the papers and serve the other parties.
Attend the Change of Venue Hearing
Attend the "Change of Venue" hearing at the appointed date and time. Bring all of the documents with you. Present your argument for making the request to the judge directly. You cannot present new facts that were not disclosed in your document, however.
Send Copies as Appropriate
Make a copy of any documents that the judge signed, regardless of whether the request was approved or not. Mail copies to other parties if they were not present. File all original documents signed by the judge with the court clerk immediately.
Nicholas Smith has written political articles for SmithonPolitics.com, "The Daily Californian" and other publications since 2004. He is a former commissioner with the city of Berkeley, Calif. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California-Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law.