Motion for Change of Venue North Carolina
The Supreme Court pointed out in State v. Chandler, 324 N.C. 172, 184, 376 S.E.2d 728, 736 (1989) that while those are important and legitimate considerations, they are not the test for determining whether the trial court should transfer venue of a case. Id.;
see also State v. Jerrett, 309 N.C. 239, 254, 307 S.E.2d 339, 347 (1983). "A motion for a change of venue is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial judge and will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of a showing of an abuse of discretion." State v. Barfield, 298 N.C. 306, 320, 259 S.E.2d 510, 524 (1979), cert. denied, 448 U.S. 907, 65 L. Ed. 2d 1137, 100 S. Ct. 3050, reh'g denied, 448 U.S. 918, 65 L. Ed. 2d 1181, 101 S. Ct. 41 (1980).
In Barfield, a case in which the State sought the death penalty, the trial court moved the case from Robeson County to Scotland County on motion of the defendant.
Later, the district attorney moved that the case be transferred from Scotland County to Bladen County, because of the large number of persons awaiting trial in Scotland County, and because Scotland County had limited court sessions available.
Defendant Barfield objected to the transfer, arguing that N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-957 provided for a change of venue on the motion of the defendant and that the trial court is limited to ordering a transfer to another county in the same judicial (now, prosecutorial) district, or a county in an adjoining judicial district.
Our Supreme Court held in Barfield that, although the statutory power of the trial court to change venue is limited by the provisions of N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-957, the superior court has the inherent authority to order a change of venue in the interests of justice. Barfield, 298 N.C. at 320, 259 S.E.2d at 524; English v. Brigman, 227 N.C. 260, 41 S.E.2d 732 (1947).
The Supreme Court found no evidence of an abuse of discretion in the transfer of the Barfield trial to Bladen County and noted that the trial court "had to consider the rights of the twenty other defendants awaiting trial in Scotland County as well as the rights of the defendant." Barfield, 298 N.C. at 321, 259 S.E.2d at 525.