Some Concerns About Sua Sponte

By Bradley Scott Shannon

United States National Bank highlights and exemplifies several well established propositions about the ability of courts to raise legal issues, including dispositive legal issues, sua sponte: (1) American courts are universally regarded as having such power; (2) that power is not limited to matters that affect the court’s jurisdiction; (3) there are, however, strong currents in the law that are hostile to the exercise of such power; (4) the power to raise issues sua sponte will not always be exercised, so that many, and perhaps even most, waivers of legal issues by parties will be honored; and (5) there is no articulated set of criteria for determining when such power should or will be exercised.1 . . . Read More