Waco to Austin

U.S. Courthouse – Austin, Texas

We read opinions in other cases to better understand the rationale for a decision. This opinion provides insight into when cases filled in Waco will be transferred to Austin.

As readers know, in 2008 in In re Volkswagen the Fifth Circuit established the current standard for obtaining a transfer of venue – the proposed forum must be shown to be “clearly more convenient.”

Judge Albright has previously transferred a number of cases from Waco to Austin, an hour and a half down I-35 (if you’re lucky) from Waco, although keeping on his docket. Some are agreed – some are not. This case is one of the latter.

You can read the facts that supported the Court’s decision that a transfer was appropriate. But this is the language that will perhaps illuminate the analysis. “Were there a compelling reason supporting maintaining venue in the Waco Division,” Judge Albright wrote at one point, “then the Court would weigh the issue of the distance between the two courthouses more carefully.”

That is perhaps not the same as saying that in general transfer will be granted from Waco to Austin unless there is a compelling reason supporting keeping the case in Waco. But it’s a useful clarification of the analysis that may help explain why cases keep sliding downhill from the Waco Division to the Austin Division.

Now I spent three years in Austin in graduate school and three in Waco for law school, and have a live Baylor Bear, a sister, aunt, uncle, more cousins than I can count and dead relatives dating to the mid-19th century there. I am board-certified in the relative merits of George’s and Scholz’. Both are great places, although now that my parents are gone I can admit it was a little harder to concentrate on studying in Austin. And the traffic in Austin really ought to factor in the “clearly more convenient” analysis. Again, the judge would be the same.

But litigants might have a preference for one jury’s pool or the other, and need to be cognizant that a voluntary as well as an involuntary transfer might be available to move their case from Franklin Avenue to Fifth Street.

Collin and Parker could care less that these are their great-great and great-great-great grandparents, and that there’s another pair of great-greats over Collin’s shoulder. But I think it’s pretty cool. Guten morgen Grossmutter.

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This blog does not constitute legal advice. If you’d like to discuss a related legal matter, please contact Michael C. Smith via email or call 903-938-8900.