Difference Between Jurisdiction and Venue
Courts recognize a distinction between jurisdiction and venue. Redwing Carriers, Inc. v. Foster, 382 So. 2d 554 (Ala. 1980), overruled on other grounds, Professional Ins. Corp. v. Sutherland, 700 So. 2d 347 (Ala. 1997).
In Redwing Carriers, this Court held that the term "jurisdiction" refers to a court's inherent power to decide a case, while the term "venue" relates to the place -- the geographical situs -- where a court with jurisdiction may hear a case. 382 So. 2d at 554-55.
As Judge Crawley pointed out in dissent, both in Tyson Foods and in the present case, the Court of Civil Appeals explained its holding in Nolin by discussing convenience or policy considerations for having an appeal heard by the circuit court in the county of the claimant's residence. Hilley, So. 2d at (quoting his dissent in Tyson Foods, 719 So. 2d at 850-51).
Judge Crawley then states that the court in Nolin "without explanation ... concluded that the circuit court of a county where the claimant did not reside lacked jurisdiction, instead of merely being the wrong venue!" Judge Crawley continued to quote his dissent in Tyson Foods:
"Once an appeal is in the circuit court, the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure apply. Rule 81(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., Covin v. Alabama Bd. of Examiners in Counseling, 712 So. 2d 1103 (Ala. Civ. App. 1998). Therefore, Rule 82(d)(1), Ala. R. Civ. P., applies; that rule states:
"'"When an action is commenced laying venue in the wrong county, the court, on timely motion of any defendant, shall transfer the action to the court in which the action might have been properly filed and the case shall proceed as though originally filed therein."'"
The language of the statute does not indicate that this provision relates to jurisdiction; instead, it suggests that this provision merely designates the proper venue, or place, for filing the appeal.
Furthermore, the policy reasons that support the rule that an appeal from the ruling of the State Board of Appeals is to be filed in the county of the claimant's residence are reasons relating to the convenience of the claimant.
In other words, they are considerations relating to the matter of venue, not the matter of jurisdiction. Therefore, when an appeal pursuant to 25-4-95 is filed in the wrong circuit court, that circuit court should transfer the appeal to the circuit court designated by the statute.