M E M O
TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Gerhard Raedeke
RE: Venue in Civil Cases
During its 1997 session, the legislature enacted two new statutes governing venue in civil cases. The first statute, N.D.C.C. § 28-04-09, allows the court to change the location of a pretrial hearing as follows:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any pretrial hearing or proceeding, except a hearing for a motion to suppress evidence, the court may change the place of the hearing or proceeding from the location in which the matter was originally to be heard.
(Emphasis added.) The statute does not require the parties to consent, before the court may change the location of a pretrial hearing.
Section 28-04-09 appears to conflict with N.D.R.Civ.P. 77(b) which provides: "[N]o hearing, . . . shall be conducted outside the district without the consent of all parties affected thereby." Unlike the statute, the rule requires the consent of the parties.
Should Section 28-04-09 be superseded, or should Rule 77 be amended to eliminate the requirement for the consent of the parties? Should Rule 77 be amended to change the word "district" to "county"?
The second new statute, N.D.C.C. § 28-04-10, provides for changing the place of trial as follows:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any civil trial the court may change the place of the trial from the location in which the matter was originally to be heard. If any party files an objection to the change of trial no later than ten days after the date of notice of assignment or reassignment of a judge for trial of the case, the trial must be held where originally venued. In the case of a jury trial, the jury panel must be composed of residents of the original county of venue or residents of the judicial district as provided by section 27-09.1-05.1.
(Emphasis added.) Does the enactment of N.D.C.C. § 28-04-10 mean the criteria for a change of venue found in N.D.C.C. § 28-04-07 no longer have to be met for a change of venue? Can the court now order a change of venue for its own convenience? Can any party now prevent a change of venue by filing an objection even if the other party has valid reasons for a change of venue?
At its September 1998 meeting, the Committee reviewed the new statutes. The Committee decided to postpone consideration of venue until after the 1999 legislative session. The 1999 legislature made no additional changes affecting N.D.C.C. §§ 28-04-09 and 28-04-10. Is the Committee now ready to act?