I have an interesting new case – a civil forfeiture case in federal court. I find it interesting not because of the facts of the case but because of where the case was filed by the federal government’s lawyers.
My client was stop by law enforcement officers near Amarillo in Potter County, Texas. During the course of the traffic stop, the officers found a large sum of United States currency. The money was seized and an administrative forfeiture proceeding was initiated to forfeit the money to the federal government. I help my client file a claim in the administrative proceeding requesting a judicial determination of the case. The government lawyers then filed a complaint seeking to forfeit the money in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas – Sherman Division in Sherman, Texas. Sherman is about 350 miles east of Amarillo just north of Dallas, about a six hour drive from Amarillo.
Why would the government want to try this case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas – Sherman Division?
Potter County is located in the area served by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas – Amarillo Division. The seizure took place near Amarillo in Potter County. Except for my client, all of the witnesses to the traffic stop and subsequent seizure live in the Amarillo area. It would certainly be more convenient for the witnesses if the case were tried locally. Not to mention that federal law says that venue (where the case should be tried) is proper in federal court in Amarillo.
My guess is that the government lawyers did not like their last experience in federal court in Amarillo when we tried another forfeiture case there last year.
I plan on filing a motion to transfer the case to the federal court in Amarillo. We will see what happens next.