, sua sponte
: "of their own accord.") describes an act of authority taken without formal prompting from another party
. The term is usually applied to actions by a judge
taken without a prior motion
or request from the parties. The plural form nostra sponte
is sometimes used when the action is taken by a multi-member court, such as an appellate court, rather than a single judge. While usually applied to actions of the court, the term reasonably may be applied to actions by government agencies and individuals acting in official capacity.
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
. Common reasons for an action taken sua sponte
are when the judge determines that the court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction
or that the case should be moved to another judge because of a conflict of interest
, even if all parties disagree.