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The Need for Sua Sponte Judicial Review Laws For Pro Se Litigants’ Lawsuits

“This website addresses the problem of meritless, abusive lawsuits filed by self-represented / pro se litigants and calls for legislative action that requires judges to practice sua sponte judicial review of all pro se litigants’ lawsuits.

This website also addresses the problem of religious frauds and various disturbing and harmful tactics that religious frauds use against their victims – including filing meritless, abusive lawsuits.

The matters discussed in this website involve subjects which merit constitutionally protected public scrutiny, and this website provides documentation, commentary and opinion on matters of public concern.”

Paulette Buchanan, M.A.

What is a Sua Sponte Order?

What is a Sua Sponte Order?

What is a Sua Sponte Order?

An order made by a judge with no request by any party to the legal action.

There are a number of situations in which a court may make an order in a case that is not in response to a party’s request or motion, but of its own initiative. This is important to understand, as it is an exception to the basic principles of legal procedure in the U.S.: (1) the parties to the legal action will direct the litigation, and (2) the judge, or decision-maker, will remain impartial, as well as passive.

A court may step out of its normally passive role in the litigation process if it deems some issue not raised by the parties, which has relevance to the case itself, needs to be decided. Taking sua sponte action is not uncommon and is generally intended to help ensure the proceedings are fair and proper, and that there is no error in the proceedings which could give rise to a mistrial, or form grounds for an appeal. Such issues may include:

  • Dismissal of a case over which the court has no geographical or subject-matter jurisdiction

  • Removal of a case to another judge, if the current judge has a conflict of interest
  • Declare a mistrial
  • Bifurcate trial proceedings, even if against the will of the parties (this means splitting the proceedings, which were originally filed on multiple issues, into separate trial proceedings)
  • Dismissal of a case considered to be frivolous, not having enough evidence to move forward (emphasis added)

https://legaldictionary.net/sua-sponte/

U.S. district and circuit courts and the Supreme Court have upheld lower court judges’ sua sponte dismissals of pro se litigants’ meritless lawsuits after those lower court judges exercised judicial review of those lawsuits (Paez v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, 11th Circuit Court, 2020; Nezbeda v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Corp., 11th Circuit Court, 2019; Lodge v. Kondaur Capital Corp., 11th Circuit Court, 2014; Oliver v. Stufflebeam, Third District Court of Appeal, State of Florida, 2012; Davis v. Kvalheim. 11th Circuit Court, 2008; Day v. McDonough, U.S. Supreme Court, 2006; Apple v. Glenn, 6th Circuit Court, 1999; Allen v. Perini, 6th Circuit Court, 1970).  Courts are expected to show careful judicial review in the exercise of sua sponte dismissals, and in such cases justifiable sua sponte dismissals in lower courts have been upheld by higher courts.

 

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