There are a number of grounds upon which a defendant may wish to challenge the plaintiff's court of choice at the commencement of a lawsuit. In some cases, the objection is to jurisdiction. In other cases, the objection should be to venue.
Jurisdiction is the power of a court to hear and decide a case.
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Venue is the proper or most convenient location for a trial.
Contesting Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Subject matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court over the subject, type or cause of action of a case that permits the court to issue a binding decision. For example, a probate court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over a personal injury lawsuit. The personal injury lawsuit must be brought in a court of general jurisdiction.
Contesting Personal Jurisdiction
Personal jurisdiction is the authority given a court over the parties before it that permits it to issue a binding decision. Personal jurisdiction may be established over a defendant in a variety of ways, making it difficult to contest. A defendant failing to find grounds to contest personal jurisdiction may instead wish to contest venue.
Venue is generally based on the county in which the alleged events forming the basis of a lawsuit arise. A defendant may seek a change of venue for several reasons. They include fear of biased jurors due to extensive media coverage, danger of violence and racial prejudice.