The venue in which a case will be heard can play a pivotal role in the outcome. In some cases, it is appropriate for an attorney to seek a change of venue, but these efforts are not always successful. There are times when a change of venue may be inappropriate or give one side an unfair advantage. Recently, the attorneys at True Guarnieri Ayer, LLP played a role in a court decision that struck down a law that would impact change-of-venue efforts.
During the 2023 session, the General Assembly passed a statute allowing parties in cases challenging the constitutionality of a statute or state agency action to change the venue of the case without any showing of a reason for the venue change. The case, upon request, would be moved to another Kentucky circuit court randomly chosen by the clerk of the Kentucky Supreme Court. The change-of-venue statute was aimed at moving constitutional challenges away from the Franklin Circuit Court in Frankfort. Historically, many of the most significant constitutional challenges have been heard in the Franklin Circuit Court. Some members of the General Assembly have taken issue with that court’s constitutional rulings.
Struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court
Senate Bill 126 would have provided parties the ability to change the venue in cases that involve challenges to the constitutionality of statutes, or in cases challenging the actions of executive branch agencies. The clerk of the Kentucky Supreme Court would have randomly selected the circuit court to which the case would have been moved. Generally, plaintiffs are permitted to file their cases—including constitutional challenges—in the county where the plaintiff resides or in the Franklin Circuit Court. Senate Bill 126 would have, when invoked, burdened parties with litigating their constitutional challenges in distant courts—a case originally filed in Franklin County could be randomly moved to Pike County, for instance, with no required showing of a reason for the move.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron recently tried to invoke the statute passed as Senate Bill 126to require a change of venue in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of action by the 2023 General Assembly to ban skill games in Kentucky. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the change-of-venue statute to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the change-of-venue measure is unconstitutional and intrudes on the power of the judiciary to determine when, or if, a change of venue is appropriate.
Attorneys effort recognized
Attorneys J. Guthrie True and Richard Guarnieri were lead counsel in this critical case. Their successful efforts are being recognized as critical in this fight to protect the constitution and the rights of parties bringing constitutional challenges to governmental actions. The law firm of True Guarnieri Ayer, LLP is proud to offer the same tenacity and commitment to justice to their clients in a variety of cases.