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United States v. Cooper

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 31, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALEXANDER VANBURN COOPER 02, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR CHANGE OF VENUE, ECF NO. 75, WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          J. MICHAEL SEABRIGHT, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Currently before the court is Defendant Alexander Vanburn Cooper's (“Defendant”) January 14, 2019 Motion for Change of Venue Pursuant to Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (“Motion for Change of Venue”). ECF No. 75. Defendant asks the court to transfer this case to the Central District of California, where Defendant resides. The Government filed an Opposition on January 22, 2019, ECF. No. 80, and a hearing was held on January 29, 2019. Based on the following, the court DENIES the Motion for Change of Venue.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The court first outlines the legal framework applicable to Defendant's Motion for Change of Venue, and then applies it to the facts of this case.

         A. Legal Framework

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 21(b) provides that “[u]pon the defendant's motion, the court may transfer the proceeding . . . against that defendant to another district for the convenience of the parties, any victim, and the witnesses, and in the interest of justice.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 21(b).

         The burden is on the defendant to show that transfer should be granted. See In re United States, 273 F.3d 380, 388 (3d Cir. 2001). With that said, however, “the defendant is not required to show ‘truly compelling circumstances for . . . change . . . [of venue, but rather that] all relevant things considered, the case would be better off transferred to another district.'” Id. (quoting In re Balsimo, 68 F.3d 185, 187 (7th Cir. 1995) (alterations in original)). Whether to grant the motion rests within “the sound discretion of the trial court.” United States v. Testa, 548 F.2d 847, 856 (9th Cir. 1977).

         In exercising its discretion, the court should consider a number of factors, including the: (1) location of the defendant; (2) location of the possible witnesses; (3) location of the events likely to be at issue; (4) location of relevant documents and records; (5) potential for disruption of the defendant's businesses if transfer is denied; (6) expenses to be incurred by the parties if transfer is denied; (7) location of defense counsel; (8) relative accessibility of the place of trial; (9) docket conditions of each potential district; and (10) any other special circumstance that might bear on the desirability of transfer. See Platt v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 376 U.S. 240, 243-44 (1964). Although the Ninth Circuit has not engaged these factors in depth, other Circuits have explained that none of these considerations is dispositive and that the court must instead “try to strike a balance and determine which factors are of greatest importance.” United States v. Maldonado-Rivera, 922 F.2d 934, 966 (2nd Cir. 1990); see United States v. Morrison, 946 F.2d 484, 489 n.1 (7th Cir. 1991) (same). Some degree of inconvenience is inevitable, and the court must consider both the defendant's and the government's inconvenience. Testa, 548 F.2d at 857.

         B. Application

         The parties address most, but not all, of the Platt factors. The court likewise addresses the factors that appear to be in dispute.

         1. Location of the Defendant

         Defendant resides in the Central District of California. Nonetheless, with an estimated trial length of one week, the inconvenience to the Defendant of a trial in Honolulu is not as great as that caused by a lengthy trial.

         In addition to his residence in the Central District of California, defense counsel points out that Defendant suffered a stroke, and submitted a memorandum of a telephone interview of Jamal Straughter regarding Defendant's present mental capacity, along with medical records. Counsel is concerned that communication with Defendant is made more ...


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