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October 20, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XLV


A Change of Venue

Next came a surprising turn of events. On October 26, 1904, The Times Dispatch announced that the trials of Cliff Wooldridge and Charlie Forbes had been moved to Farmville and the Prince Edward County Courthouse. The newspaper noted that the new venue would not only be more convenient for the lawyers but also for witnesses from Appomattox County and the southern part of Buckingham County where the crime took place. This change also meant that Commonwealth’s Attorney E. W. Hubard might have to surrender the prosecution of both upcoming cases to the Attorney for the Commonwealth in Prince Edward County.

A correspondent for The Times-Dispatch wrote from Buckingham Court House:

I heard a prominent county official say that he thought if Mr. Hubard had been here and resisted the motion for a change of venue, that the judge would have had the trials at this place. It will be recalled that nine of the jurors at the trial of Wooldridge voted for conviction. So far as is known no new testimony has been adduced for either side but public interest in the outcome of these cases is unabated, and people are watching the papers to find out any move that is made in the matter.

Charlie Forbes was given the choice of remaining in the Buckingham County jail or being moved to the jail at Farmville. Cliff Wooldridge told the press that he wished to be tried in Buckingham County. There, he had friends and, as the correspondent for The Times-Dispatch put it, “there are people here who have experienced kindness at his hands, while in the adjoining county he would be comparatively a stranger.”

An interesting note concerning the change of venue was printed later in the November 22nd issue of The Times-Dispatch:

Judge Crute thought that an injustice had been done the court in some of the recent newspaper correspondence which had made it appear that Judge Hundley had arbitrarily and without request or consent of the prisoners, removed these cases to Prince Edward. He stated to the court that he had intended correcting this through The Times-Dispatch, but had neglected doing so, hence he would make a statement publicly that it was with the knowledge and consent of his client that the change of venue was granted.

Mr. Flood said that owing to the fact that such an impression had been made upon the public mind, he would say that before asking for a change of venue he had consulted his client (Wooldridge), and that it was at that time the prisoner’s expressed wish that his case be removed.

Did Cliff Wooldridge change his mind? Did H. D. Flood convince him that a trial in Prince Edward County was a good idea? Did the newspaper simply print conflicting reports?

Coming Next: Citizens of Buckingham County Dissatisfied

Need to catch up? Click here for The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part I

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