Moreover, because plaintiffs seek to enjoin further
implementation of the allegedly offensive policies, the locus of
policy implementation is more relevant than the locus of policy
This conclusion would have even more force should plaintiffs
succeed in this case. Enforcement of any injunctive or
declaratory relief would focus almost exclusively on Tamms, its
personnel and inmates. See, e.g., Law Bulletin Publishing, Co.
v. LRP Publications, Inc., 992 F. Supp. 1014, 1021 (N.D.Ill.
1998) (transferring a case to Florida because "a Florida court is
in a better position to enforce and monitor any injunctive relief
awarded."); Habitat Wall-paper & Blinds Inc. v. K.T. Scott Ltd.
Partnership, 807 F. Supp. 470, 475 (N.D.Ill. 1992) (transferring
a case to Massachusetts because the injunctive relief requested
would need to be enforced in Massachusetts). The court finds that
the Southern District is the primary situs of material events,
and therefore accords plaintiffs' choice of forum little weight.
B. Access to Evidence
The court next considers the ease of access to sources of
proof. Defendants argue that the files and records relating to
plaintiffs and to the conditions of their incarceration are all
at Tamms. See Carillo v. Darden, 992 F. Supp. 1024, 1026
(N.D.Ill. 1998) (holding that this factor weighed in favor of
transfer because "the records relating to this incident are
located at the [prison]"). Plaintiffs counter that proof about
their mental health status before they became inmates at Tamms
can be found in the Northern District and elsewhere. According to
plaintiffs, family members may be called upon to testify to an
inmate's psychological condition before entering Tamms. The court
agrees with plaintiffs that documents and records are easily
transportable. See, e.g., Law Bulletin Publishing, Co., 992
F. Supp. at 1018 ("The court is satisfied . . . that either party
can easily bring to the district in which the case is litigated
those documents that are not there already."); Arena Football
League, Inc. v. Roemer, 947 F. Supp. 337, 341 (N.D.Ill. 1996)
("Defendants have not demonstrated that they cannot bring the
critical documents to this district."). Accordingly, this element
does not weigh in favor of transfer.
C. Convenience of Witnesses
Defendants argue that the convenience of witnesses also favors
the Southern District. Defendants rely on Welborn's affidavit, in
which he states that he anticipates that most of plaintiffs' and
defendants' witnesses will be either inmates or staff from Tamms.
Plaintiffs admit that Tamms inmates and staff will be witnesses,
but aver that because these people are either parties or
employees of a party, their convenience is not as important as
the convenience of non party-related witnesses. Plaintiffs assert
that they plan to call: expert witnesses from Chicago and
out-of-state; plaintiffs' family members, many of whom reside in
Chicago; policymakers stationed in both Chicago and Springfield
(the Central District); and officials or medical personnel from
facilities where the named plaintiffs were previously
incarcerated, most of which are in the Northern and Central
The court will address each of plaintiffs' arguments. First,
the convenience of expert witnesses is not a factor courts
consider in deciding a transfer motion. See Blumenthal v.
Management Assistance, Inc., 480 F. Supp. 470, 474 (N.D.Ill.
1979); Binz v. Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd., 1999 WL 90642,
*3 (N.D.Ill. Feb.10, 1999) (holding that plaintiff's "counsel,
expert witnesses and the investigator . . . are all paid
individuals . . . whose job it is to be present in court").
Second, defendants argue that any inconvenience
to plaintiffs' family members is irrelevant because there is no
evidence that they will offer testimony*fn3 and if they do,
their testimony may be irrelevant. The court accepts plaintiffs'
representations that family members may be called to testify
about a plaintiff's past mental problems and whether and how
those problems intensified after the inmate entered Tamms.
Finally, defendants argue that plaintiffs have not presented
any evidence that non-party psychiatrists from other institutions
will testify. The court notes that although plaintiffs present
evidence that the named plaintiffs have spent more time
incarcerated in the Northern District than in the Southern
District, there is no way of knowing where the rest of the class
was incarcerated prior to Tamms.
Because the witnesses plaintiffs plan to call are located in
all three districts (the family members in the Northern, the
policymakers in the Northern and Central Districts, and the
inmates and officials in the Southern District), this factor does
not favor either plaintiffs or defendants.
D. Convenience of Parties
Defendants argue that the Southern District is more convenient
for both parties because all of the plaintiffs are currently
located there and four of the nine defendants reside there, while
only two of the defendants, Dr. Page and Dr. Shansky, reside in
the Northern District.*fn4 Plaintiffs respond that the Northern
District is convenient for counsel on both sides, whereas the
Southern District is far more convenient for defendants' counsel,
because they have offices in Springfield as well as Chicago.
Courts take the convenience of counsel into consideration, "but
only if transfer would impose unnecessary costs on the parties."
Kingsley v. Dixon Old People's Home Fund, Inc., 1996 WL 417548,
at *2 (N.D.Ill. July 22, 1996). Plaintiffs argue that courts may
consider whether transfer will impose such expenses on plaintiff
that he may be forced to terminate the litigation. See Butterick
Co. v. Will, 316 F.2d 111, 113 (7th Cir. 1963). Butterick is
inapposite, however, because plaintiffs do not assert that the
transfer would force them to abandon their suit.
Plaintiffs note that the cost in time and money to travel from
Chicago to Tamms is burdensome, particularly on plaintiffs'
public interest lawyers. The court is sympathetic to this
reality, especially where, as here, plaintiffs' lawyers are
employed by a not for profit organization that is performing an
important public service. Plaintiffs' argument is premised on the
assumption that the case will be heard by one of the two Southern
District judges in Benton, Illinois which, like Tamms itself, is
not served by a commercial airport. Yet, as defendants point out,
the case could well be transferred (by lot) to one of the five
judges who sit in East St. Louis, just across the Mississippi
River from St. Louis, Missouri, a major transportation hub with
frequent air service.
Finally, defendants argue that if the case remains in the
Northern District, they will be saddled with the costs of
transporting dangerous prisoners across the state unless the
court transfers the case. Defendants add that moving the
prisoners poses security risks. Plaintiffs counter that
transporting the prisoners from the Federal Metropolitan
Center ("MCC")*fn5 to the federal courthouse in Chicago will be
easier than moving them from Tamms to a Southern District
courthouse. Defendants reply that Tamms has its own courtroom
facilities. The court concludes that unless the case is tried in
the courthouse on Tamms' premises (which apparently cannot be
used for jury trials), the parties will incur costs transporting
plaintiffs from prison to courthouse, and plaintiffs may well
have to be held in a state penal facility nearest the courthouse.
Because it is unlikely that the case will be tried at Tamms if
transferred, the court accords little weight to defendants'
argument that failure to transfer will impose added costs and
create a security risk.
The court finds that because transfer to the Southern District
will impose extra travel time on both parties, and because
plaintiffs' attorneys, regardless of the forum, will have to
travel to Tamms to depose Tamms personnel and to meet with,
depose, and otherwise prepare their clients for discovery and
trial, transfer will not impose "unnecessary" costs on plaintiffs
or their attorneys. See Kingsley, 1996 WL 417548, at *2 ("It is
true, that if the case were heard in [the transferee forum], both
parties' attorneys would be burdened with travel. . . . I am not
persuaded that extra travel time would impose any hardship on
plaintiff's attorneys."). Accordingly, the private interest
factors weigh in favor of transfer.
IV. The Public Interests of Justice
In addition to the private interest factors, the court must
also consider the following public interest factors that may
warrant transfer: (1) the relation of the communities to the
issue of the litigation and the desirability of resolving
controversies in their locale; (2) the court's familiarity with
applicable law; and (3) the congestion of the respective court
dockets and the prospects for earlier trial. See Hughes v.
Cargill, Inc., 1994 WL 142994, at *2 (N.D.Ill. Apr.14, 1994).
Defendants argue that residents of the city of Tamms and the
surrounding area have a greater stake in the outcome of the
instant case than residents of the Northern District. According
to defendants, the prison employs 430 people, a sizeable chunk of
the community considering that the town of Tamms itself has only
950 residents. Defendants assert that, consequently, the Tamms
community has "a vested interest in whether the Tamms
Correctional Center stands or falls." Plaintiffs respond that the
citizens of Cook County have more of an interest in the outcome
of the case because the named plaintiffs committed the crimes for
which they were incarcerated in Cook County and will probably
return to the Northern District when released. Plaintiffs, who
are all African Americans, also contend that plaintiffs will be
more likely to get a jury of their peers in Cook County because
the jury pool in the Northern District is twenty percent black,
while the pool in the Southern District is just four percent
Both parties are incorrect. Defendants' argument is wrong
because this suit does not seek the dismemberment of Tamms.
Rather, it seeks to compel the administration of the institution
to treat its inmates in compliance with the Constitution and the
laws — interests shared by all citizens of the state. Plaintiffs
are wrong because, even accepting their declarations, only
sixty-four to eighty percent of the potential plaintiff class may
return to the Northern District. The remainder will be returning
to various areas around the state. Moreover, plaintiffs' desire
for a more racially diverse jury pool rests on the controversial
and rather pernicious notion that jurors
favor defendants of their own race and will make decisions based
on these sympathies. Just as Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79,
106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), and its progeny prohibit
the parties from basing their peremptory challenges "on the
assumption that black jurors as a group will be unable
impartially to consider the State's case against a black
defendant," id. at 89, 106 S.Ct. 1712, the court cannot base a
transfer decision on the assumption that black jurors will be
more sympathetic to black plaintiffs. See generally Barbara D.
Underwood, Ending Race Discrimination in Jury Selection: Whose
Right is it, Anyway?, 92 Colum.L.Rev. 725, 733 (1992) ("Surely a
Court that prohibits litigants from relying on a race-based
generalization to challenge jurors should not rely on that same
The first public interest factor is therefore a "wash," at
least based on the parties' arguments. Because the court has
decided that the Southern District is the situs of the material
events, the court concludes that the administration of justice
will be served more efficiently if the case is litigated by a
court that is "closer to the action." Paul v. Lands' End, Inc.,
742 F. Supp. 512, 514 (N.D.Ill. 1990).
The second factor of the interests of justice test also does
not weigh in favor of either party, because the two courts are
presumably equally familiar with the applicable law. The third
factor, docket congestion, weighs slightly in plaintiffs' favor.
Defendants present statistical evidence that the Northern
District has a heavier overall caseload than the Southern
District. Plaintiffs counter that the more important statistic is
the median time from filing until disposition. Plaintiffs are
correct that courts consider median filing-disposition time to be
more significant than overall caseload. "[T]o anyone who
understands the realities behind the statistics, the most
meaningful figures in terms of court congestion are not the raw
numbers of pending cases at year-end . . . but these": (1)
weighted filings per judge in each district; (2) median time from
filing until trial; and (3) the percentage of cases in each
district that are over three years old. Zalutsky, Pinski &
DiGiacomo, Ltd. v. Kleinman, 747 F. Supp. 457, 463-64 (N.D.Ill.
Plaintiffs cite statistics from 1992 to 1997 which suggest that
the two districts disposed of cases in nearly the same amount of
time, although the Northern District disposed of civil matters a
bit more quickly (in an average of five months, as compared to
the Southern District's eight months). Plaintiffs also argue that
this court disposes of cases more quickly than Judge Gilbert in
the Southern District (plaintiffs reach this conclusion by
comparing the number of motions pending over six months and the
number of cases pending over three years). As noted above,
however, this comparison is irrelevant, because the instant case
might just as easily end up on the docket of one of the other six
judges in the Southern District. Given that plaintiffs have
presented evidence that is more relevant to the inquiry, and that
plaintiffs' evidence suggests that the Northern District disposes
of civil cases marginally more quickly than the Southern
District, the third factor weighs slightly in plaintiffs' favor.
After weighing all the relevant factors, the court concludes
that this case should be transferred to the Southern District.
Although a plaintiff's choice of forum is important, the court
gives this factor less weight because plaintiffs are seeking
class certification and because the court has concluded that the
Northern District is not the situs of the material events.
Moreover, the witnesses are dispersed across three districts, and
all of the plaintiffs, a number of the defendants, and many
relevant records can currently be found in the Southern District.
Although the court acknowledges that transfer will inconvenience
plaintiffs' counsel, it will not impose "unnecessary" costs on
either party. The
court therefore concludes that, while the question is close and
within the sound discretion of the court, the convenience of
parties and witnesses and the interests of justice favor
Accordingly, the court grants defendants' motion to transfer
this case to the Southern District of Illinois.