Where do we file suits? Generally, we file lawsuits in the county or locale where the dispute arose. In some lawsuits, the proper location is murky. in Farrera v. Travis County Attorney’s Office, No. 23-CV-01406 (W.D. Tex. 2/14/2024), John Ferrara was arrested in San Antonio. He had posted some blog posts criticizing the City of Kyle. Kyle is mid-way between Austin and San Antonio. In his suit, the Plaintiff complained of conspiracy among various town officials of violating his First Amendment rights.

It started when the Kyle police arrested Mr. Ferrara for allegedly stalking the Kyle Chief of Police. The Hays County Attorney’s office recused itself. The Travis County Attorney’s office was then appointed to prosecute the harassment charge against Mr. Farrara. In Plaintiff’s view, the TCAO simply rubber stamped the Kyle Police Department’s investigation. The Plaintiff then filed various lawsuits in San Antonio Federal court alleging similar complaints. Plaintiff Farrara then filed the instant lawsuit alleging the conspiracy.

Motion to Transfer Venue

The TCAO moved to transfer venue to Austin Federal Court. The Western District Court then reviewed the various factors involved in a transfer of venue. The witnesses were all located in Kyle or Austin – other than the Plaintiff. Kyle itself falls within the Austin division. Documents could be easily transported to San Antonio, but most of the documents were maintained in Austin or Kyle.

There is a history in San Antonio. Since, Plaintiff’s two prior lawsuits regarding this same subject were field in San Antonio Federal Court. There was also a third Federal lawsuit then pending in San Antonio. The Plaintiff correctly pointed out that two San Antonio judges have experience with Ferrara’s allegations. The suit was likely to be decided on paper motions.

The Court noted that San Antonio and Travis County residents have equal interest in civil rights. So, in the end, the Judge denied the Defendant’s motion to transfer venue. The case would remain in San Antonio Federal court. The Judge made his decision based on these factors. But, one could conclude that the Judge knew a conspiracy claim is exceedingly hard to show. The Court might have felt it might be a quicker process to decide based on a dismissal motion the case than to transfer. See the decision here.