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What Is a Sua Sponte? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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It is a Latin phrase meaning “of its own accord.” When judges do something outside the scope of what either party requests, they use this word to describe it. Sua Sponte is used to indicate that a court has taken notice of an issue on its own motion without prompting or suggestion from either party. As a general rule, where grounds for dismissal exist, an action is subject to dismissal on a court’s own motion.

When can a judge make sua sponte?

One situation in which a party might encourage a judge to move sua sponte occurs when that party is preserving a special appearance (usually to challenge jurisdiction), and therefore cannot make motions on its own behalf without making a general appearance.

Sua Sponte in Probate Court

In the matter of estate & probate administration, sua sponte can be used by the court from something as simple as ordering an accounting of a trust to removing an administrator or executor from the proceedings. In probate court, accounting is the best way to provide insight into most trust-related cases. It is held that probate court can use it’s general power to supervise the administration of trusts to make these orders. This stand-alone order may also not be appealable.

Sua sponte can be avoided if the executor administers the trust in a timely manor and the accounting of the estate is provided to the court for all trusts and necessary assets.

The use of Sua Sponte

Notable examples of sua sponte are as follows:

  1. Sua sponte, Justice Scalia raised SCRAP during Massachusetts’oral argument.
  2. The court’s sua sponte motion to dismiss under Section 707 ( b ) is denied.
  3. He doesn’t just render judgment ” sua sponte ” and without due notice.
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