Change of venue motion “incredibly asinine” and “professionally insulting”

At various times in their careers, lawyers see motions or other pleadings that, for one reason or another, strike them perhaps beyond unmeritorious. Whether because of boundless judicial restraint or other reasons, even when judges deny those motions they don’t say much. Based on what someone passed along to me today, though, Iowa District Court Judge William Pattinson reached his limit recently.

His ruling last month on a motion for change of venue in a trust action couldn’t have been more explicit. The motion, Pattinson’s order said, “is so incredibly asinine, ill-conceived, unfounded and personally and professionally insulting that it is unworthy of any discussion or consideration.” It doesn’t take a great leap of logic to conclude the motion was denied.

Based on four affidavits submitted in support of the motion, it appears one of the defendants, all of whom live in California, is concerned that the action is venued in the small Iowa town where the plaintiff’s attorney and his law firm are located. In addition to that defendant, three attorneys signed affidavits essentially asserting that judges in smaller communities are unduly influenced by local attorneys and would favor them over an out-of-state resident.

Under this reasoning, rural residents could never bring suit in their home county or cases can only be heard by judges who don’t know any of the attorneys involved. Of course, I’m guessing the defendant now believes Judge Pattinson’s bluntness simply proves how much “undue influence” the plaintiff’s attorney has.

I think perfect objectivity is an unrealistic goal; fairness, however, is not.

Michael Pollan

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