Revis v. Davis

Filing 106

ORDER denying Plaintiff Lawrence C. Revis Jr.'s 105 Motion to transfer venue and examine jurors, but his motion to submit voir dire questions will be GRANTED. Plaintiff is DIRECTED to file any additional requested voir dire questions within 10 days of today's Order. Signed by Judge Lisa G. Wood on 5/17/2017. (csr)

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Sti tllie tKmteli ^toteiee l^iKtdct Court tor t|ie ^oitttiem IBiotrtrt ot 4leorsio li^opcrooo Sitbioton LAWRENCE C. REVIS, JR., Plaintiff, No. V. 5:14-CV-88 T&A FARMS, TIMOTHY DALE DAVIS, ALPHINE DAVIS, and STAGEY DINWIDDIE, Defendants. ORDER Plaintiff Lawrence venue and examine C. Revis, Jr.'s motion jurors will be DENIED, to transfer but his motion to submit voir dire questions will be GRANTED. Dkt. No. 105. Background Plaintiff, Smallwood are Sheila suing Smallwood, Defendants, and her their former alleging race discrimination and retaliation. {S.D. Ga.), 5:14-CV-87 (S.D. Ga.), husband employers, Nos. 5:14-CV-86 5:14-CV-88 Their suits are being litigated in the John (S.D. Ga.). Southern District of Georgia's Waycross Division. John Smallwood's trial took place there on April 24-26, 2017. A0 72A (Rev. 8/82) Dkt. Nos. 106-08, No. 5:14-CV-87 (S.D. Ga.). Of the fourteen impaneled jurors, four were African-American. One was excused for cause with the consent of both parties. were stricken by Defendants. (S.D. Ga.). Dkt. No. 113, No. 5:14-CV-87 One was reinstated following John Smallwood's successful challenge under Batson v. (1986). Kentucky, 476 U.S. Dkt. Nos. 106, 113, No. 5:14-CV-87 (S.D. Ga.). jury unanimously liable. reached a verdict finding Dkt. No. 117, No. 5:14-CV-87 Plaintiff's trial 104. Three is set for Defendants 79 The not (S.D. Ga.). July 12, 2017. Dkt. No. On May 15, 2017, his attorneys moved to transfer venue, examine jurors, and modify voir dire questions. Dkt. No. 105. LEGAL STANDARDS Transfer of Venue "For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought . . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). This decision is discretionary. Ross v. Buckeye Cellulose Corp., 980 F.2d 648, 654 1993). (11th Cir. The party seeking transfer of venue bears the burden of "establish[ing] is more convenient." (11th Cir. 1989) In re (per curiam). Ricoh that the suggested forum Corp., 870 Osqood v. 573 The court must first determine whether the action could have been brought forum. F.2d 570, Discount Auto Parts, LLC, in the 981 F. suggested Supp. 2d 1259, 1263 (S.D. convenience witnesses; Spot, 19, of and Inc., Jan. Fla. the (3) No. ] Then, parties; (2) it must weigh 'MD the convenience the interest of justice." CV 411-096, 2012) Plaintiff [ 2013). 2012 (citation WL 170154, omitted). of Greely v. at *2 ''MT]he the the Lazer (S.D. fact Ga. that requested the transfer can be considered as one factor in favor of allowing a change of venue." Id. at *3. Examining Witnesses ^'As for . . . attorneys question the venire members, about how not being including counsel submit questions in writing." 831 (11th Cir. to directly a district court has discretion to conduct voir dire, 643 F.3d 807, allowed whether to have United States v. Hill, 2011). Voir Dire Questions The court may permit the parties or their attorneys to examine prospective jurors or may itself do so. If the court examines the jurors, it must permit the parties or their attorneys to make any further inquiry it considers proper, or must itself ask any of their additional questions it considers proper. Fed. in R. Civ. selecting P. 47(a). voir dire District courts questions, ^'subject demands of fairness." United States v. 2017 WL 1208403, (11th Cir. Apr. Voir dire ^^need at *9 only provide have wide discretion to the essential Bishop, No. 15-15406, 3, 2017) reasonable (per curiam). assurance that prejudice will be discovered if present." Hill, United States v. 643 F.Sd 807, 836 (llth Cir. 2011). DISCUSSION This case Plaintiff s will not attorneys be will examine venire members. transferred not be to another permitted to venue. directly They will be allowed to submit voir dire questions. Plaintiff has not carried propriety of transfer. not come close to his burden of showing the To be as gentle as possible, he has doing so. A transfer would not be convenient to the parties or witnesses, nor would it further the interests knowledge, of the justice. parties, To the witnesses, best and of the evidence Court's are all located within the Waycross Division's territory. Plaintiff alleges that justice demands transfer because of two facts he brings forth regarding John Smallwood's trial. Plaintiff Caucasian. Americans first complains In Waycross, than there are . . . ." three least reasons. ^Mt]he alone, jury was there Caucasian Dkt. No. 105 at 5. at that in are almost more 95% African- population [sic] This point is not convincing for First, of the fourteen potential jurors empaneled for final questioning and strikes, 29% were African-American (four out of fourteen). A mutually agreed upon excusal for cause and two of Defendants' strikes are what reduced that number. Second, Plaintiff's motion confuses the City of Waycross with the Waycross Division of the Southern District of Smallwood, Georgia. True, as was the case with John Plaintiff's trial will take place in a courthouse located within the City of Waycross; however, the jurors will be called located, not but 28 U.S.C. § only also from from Ware County, six Any 90(c)(4). other contention where Waycross surrounding that is counties. the. racial composition of a single jury must mirror that of a single city in a seven-county division is simply wrong. obviously, it would be Finally, and most fantastically unjust and illegal to transfer this case in an effort to change the jury's racial makeup. Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 85-86 (1986) (^'[T]he defendant [has] the right to be tried by a jury whose members are selected Equal pursuant Protection [government] Clause to nondiscriminatory guarantees the criteria. defendant that The the will not exclude members of his race from the jury venire on account of race, or on the false assumption that members of his race as a group are not qualified to serve as jurors." (internal citations and footnote omitted)). Plaintiff's second contention is equally unavailing, even more puzzling. yet He alleges that ^^the jury pool included prospective jury members that knew the defendants personally. . . . This is too coincidental that in a city populated with more African-Americans surrounding cities) that knew the appears to (and selecting prospective jurors from that the pool would include defendants." posit Dkt. that members No. of 105 at one individuals 5-6. race Plaintiff should be more socially isolated as a result of a municipality neighboring their home being another race. composed of a majority of citizens from Such a position is without merit. Plaintiff's effort to transfer this case boils down to his sense that John Smallwood should have had more African- American jurors for his trial. He has presented no evidence of an improper selection process, nor of race influencing the jury's decision. The Court cannot transfer this case across the state to tip the scales toward a different jury racial makeup. Plaintiff's request that this case be transferred is DENIED. As for Plaintiff's request permitted to conduct voir dire, Court's discretion. (11th Cir. 2011). that his attorneys this matter is within the United States v. Hill, 643 F.Sd 807, 831 Plaintiff has presented no reason why this Court is incapable of conducting adequate voir dire. request is DENIED. be This However, the Court will discretionarily GRANT Plaintiff's motion to file additional proposed voir dire questions. CONCLUSION For these reasons. Plaintiff's Motion to Transfer Venue and to Modify Jury Questions and to Examine Jurors, 105, is DENIED in part and GRANTED in part. dkt. Plaintiff no. is DIRECTED to file any additional requested voir dire questions within 10 days of today's Order. SO ORDERED, this 17th day of May, 2017. LISA GODBEY WOOD, UNITED STATES SOUTHERN A0 72A (Rev. 8/82) DISTRICT JUDGE DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

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