members of Associates and Hare reside in Alabama.
Third, although the parties have not identified all the witnesses who would be called to testify in this action, it seems unlikely that New York would be convenient to any witness in this case, particularly in light of the fact that substantially all the relevant events occurred in Alabama. On the other hand, all the members of Associates and Hare, presumably competent to testify with respect to issues relevant to this case, reside in Alabama. Also, defendants have identified one prospective witness, Baker's attorney in the Alabama proceedings, who resides in Alabama. Plaintiff, on the other hand, has identified no witness who resides in New York. Furthermore, plaintiff has advanced no argument that convince this court that it would be any less convenient for it to litigate in Alabama than here.
Fourth, transfer of venue to the Northern District of Alabama would better provide relative ease of access of proof. All transcripts or other records of the proceedings are in Alabama. Any records relating to improper campaign contributions are likely to be found in Alabama. Even with the conveniences of modern technology such as photocopy machines, document production would be more easily conducted in Alabama than in New York.
Fifth, the availability of process is not a major factor in this case.
The sixth factor, plaintiff's choice of forum, is the only factor that favors venue in New York.
Seventh, the Northern District of Alabama is at least as competent as the Southern District of New York to address issues of constitutional violations. Furthermore, to the extent that a court will have to decide issues such as the reach of Alabama's long-arm statute and application of provisions of the Alabama Code, the United States District Court in Alabama presumably would be more familiar with Alabama state law than would this court.
Finally, trial efficiency and the interests of justice lean in favor of transferring venue to the Northern District of Alabama. Where plaintiff has lodged strong allegations attacking the integrity of Alabama's state court system, and in the process has specifically accused an Alabama state court judge of exercising bias in favor of campaign contributors, we deem it appropriate, particularly where so many other factors weigh in favor of transfer, to leave such issues to be decided by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
Although plaintiff's choice of this forum militates against transferring venue, personal jurisdiction over defendants by this court is questionable, and plaintiff has conspicuously avoided bringing this action in federal court in Alabama--clearly the most convenient forum--on the sole ground that cronyism runs rampant in the Alabama state court system with state court judges administering justice on the basis of campaign contributions. Even assuming the validity of plaintiff's fear of biased judges in the Alabama state court system, such concerns should be allayed by the fact that it will be litigating in a federal court, where campaign contributions have no influence.
In sum, the crux of plaintiff's complaint against defendants is that (1) the defendants exerted improper influence over a cooperative judge to satisfy the Bennetts' judgment against Baker with assets held by the Corporation, thereby denying the Corporation its due process right in violation of the fourteenth amendment to the United State Constitution, and (2) defendants' actions constituted a conversion of the Corporation's property. Plaintiff relies on 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) to assert venue in this district on the ground that the certificates representing the treasury bills, which allegedly were converted by defendants, were held in New York by Merrill.
Even assuming that plaintiff is correct that venue is proper in the Southern District of New York, we conclude that there are overwhelming reasons to transfer the case to the Northern District of Alabama. Furthermore, the court has the power to transfer this suit to a district where it might have been brought even though it does not have personal jurisdiction over defendants. Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman, 369 U.S. 463, 8 L. Ed. 2d 39, 82 S. Ct. 913 (1962); 15 Wright, Miller & Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction 2d §§ 3827, 3844 (1986).
For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion to change venue to the Northern District of Alabama is granted. Pursuant to L.R. 26, the Clerk shall, upon expiration of five (5) days, mail to the Clerk for the Northern District of Alabama certified copies of this opinion and order and of the docket entries in this case, and the originals of all other papers on file in this case.
Dated: September 24, 1996
White Plains, New York
William C. Conner
Senior United States District Judge