What trial court has jurisdiction to hear a challenge to state laws/actions? The one in the capital county, or any county? States debating venue.

The question of what state court has venue or jurisdiction to hear challenges to state laws and/or state actions has come up a great deal recently. Some states require the suit be filed in the county that contains the capital. Wisconsin (Dane County, discussed here) and Michigan (Ingham County, discussed here) for example had something like this until they changed their law to get these cases moved out of the capital county. North Carolina’s effort last year disallows challenges to the constitutionality of state laws be tried in any county, instead specifically allowing the Chief Justice to pick three judges from anywhere in the state.

This year there have been three movements in various directions on this score.

Kansas: SB 58 amends the state’s Judicial Review Act to require all judicial review of agency actions be moved into the capital county (Shawnee), rather than the current practice of filing “in the county in which the order or agency action is entered or is effective…” That bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 5.

Kentucky: SB 178 moves legal/constitutional challenges under 100 different statutes out of the capital county (Franklin) and into any county. That bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mississippi: Attempting to get cases challenging state laws and agency actions moved out of the capital county (Hinds) HB 710 instead allows the Chief Justice to designate a Circuit Judge from anywhere in the state to hear the case and to have the hearings and proceedings moved to any courthouse in the state (discussed here). That bill was approved by the full House on February 4.