United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
SPARKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the
above-styled cause, and specifically Defendants Jeffrey
Rogers, Patrick Swanton, Steven Schwartz, and Christopher
Frost's Joint Motion to Transfer Venue [#5] and Plaintiff
Thomas Paul Landers's Amended Response [#9] in
opposition. Having considered these documents, the case file
as a whole, and the applicable law, the Court enters the
following opinion and order.
a § 1983 action arising from a violent incident at a
Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas on May 17, 2015.
See Compl. [#1] at 1. That day hundreds of
motorcycle club members gathered at the restaurant for a
Texas Confederation of Clubs & Independents (COC)
meeting. See Id. ¶¶9-l4. During the COC
meeting, shooting broke out between some of the bikers.
See Id. Law enforcement officers responded to the
violence with their own gun fire. See Id. Once the
shooting ceased, nine individuals lay dead and at least
twenty were injured. See Id. ¶ 14. Based on a
single affidavit, law enforcement officials arrested 177
persons, including Plaintiff, and detained a number of other
bikers. See Id. ¶¶ 15, 30. Later, a grand
jury in McLennan County indicted Plaintiff and 105 others for
the felony of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity with
the Intent to Commit or Conspire to Commit Murder, Capital
Murder, or Aggravated Assault. See Id. ¶ 66.
brings this suit against Defendants Rogers, a detective
employed by the Waco Police Department (WPD); Swanton, a WPD
officer; Schwartz, a special agent employed by the Texas
Department of Safety (DPS); and Frost, a special agent
employed by DPS. See Id. ¶¶ 3-6. In his
complaint, Plaintiff asserts he was wrongfully arrested in
violation of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment
rights and alleges Defendants conspired to deprive him of
those rights. See Id. ¶¶ 79-93.
Specifically, Plaintiff argues the arrest warrant Defendants
obtained was based on a "template" affidavit which
failed to provide any particularized facts, contained false
and materially misleading statements, and conflicted with
evidence showing Plaintiff was not involved in the violence.
See Id. ¶¶ 50, 58, 68, 78. Instead of
particularized facts, Plaintiff states his arrest was based
on the alleged fact he was "wearing colors
similar" to the colors associated with two of
the rival biker clubs involved in the shooting. Id.
¶¶ 23, 29. Plaintiff also claims the grand jury
indictment was tainted by Defendant Chavez's testimony
regarding the affidavit. See Id. ¶ 68.
now move to transfer venue from the Austin Division of the
Western District of Texas to the Waco Division. See
Mot. [#5] at 1. In support, Defendants allege the following
• All Defendants work and reside within McLennan County,
Texas, which the Waco Division serves. See Id.
[#5-1] Ex. D-l (Reyna Affidavit); id. [#5-2] Ex. D-2
The Twin Peaks restaurant is located in McLennan County.
See Id. [#5] ¶ 2.05.
• The bikers' arrests, detention, prosecution, and
Grand Jury indictments occurred in McLennan County. See
• All of the records and evidence retained and/or
considered by the Waco Police Department, McLennan County
Criminal District Attorney's Office, the state courts,
and the McLennan County Grand Jury are located in Waco.
See Id. ¶ 2.07.
• The "vast maj ority of potential witnesses reside
in McLennan County, " including law enforcement
officials, prosecutors, judicial personnel, and residents of
McLennan County. See Id. ¶ 2.08.
• The federal courthouse in Waco is approximately 100
miles closer to the Waco Police Department and the Criminal
District Attorney's Office than the Austin federal
courthouse. See Id. ¶¶ 2.09-1.10.
• Proceedings in the Austin Division would burden
Defendants, witnesses, and the offices they serve, both in
terms of time and expense. See Id. ¶ 2.11.
• Keeping the cases in the Austin Division interferes
with Defendants' counsels' ability to effectively
represent their clients. See id.
response, Plaintiff asserts the following facts relevant to
• Potential witnesses reside across Texas. See
Resp. [#9-1] Ex. P-l (Uribe Affidavit) ¶¶ 2, 8. In
particular, of the 244 bikers arrested or detained, only 53
are from Waco; the rest reside in a number of different
cities and regions throughout Texas. See Id.
Similarly, the law enforcement personnel involved in the
investigation included Department of Public Safety (DPS)
officers from its Austin headquarters and surrounding cities.
See Id. ¶¶ 2, 7.
• Significant evidence is located in Austin and in other
parts of Texas other than Waco. See Resp. [#9] at
4-6. DPS officers obtained video recordings of the incident
which are likely kept at DPS headquarters in Austin. See
Id. The Attorney General's Office of Texas ...