Post Content


Words of Law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law.

Today’s phrase is sua sponte.

sua sponte (s[y]oo- Ə spon-tee). [Latin “of one’s own accord; voluntarily”] Without prompting or suggestion; on its own motion <the court took notice sua sponte that it lacked jurisdiction over the case>. • A multimember court may use the form nostra sponte [Latin “of our own accord”] to distinguish its collective action from that of a single judge. – Also termed sponte sua.

Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed., Editor in Chief, Bryan A. Garner, Thomson Reuters, 2014.

An example of use of the phrase appears in Abate v. Fremont Investment & Loan, 470 Mass. 821. “As a component of subject matter jurisdiction, a party may challenge, or a judge may consider, sua sponte, standing under rule 12 (b) (1) at any time.”

Another example appears in the notes to Massachusetts Guide to Evidence, section 601 “Competency.” In regard to the competency of a criminal defendant, “The trial judge has a duty to act sua sponte whenever there is ‘a substantial question of possible doubt’ as to the defendant’s competency to stand trial.”


Written By:


Recent Posts

New Law Gives Added Protections for Persons with Disabilities posted on Feb 20

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a new law on February 13, 2020 which gives more protections to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  Chapter 19 of the Acts of 2020 establishes a registry for caretakers in Massachusetts who have been found to have caused serious physical   …Continue Reading New Law Gives Added Protections for Persons with Disabilities

Real Estate Recording Fees to be Increased posted on Dec 10

Under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 44B section 8,  real property conveyance documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds are subject to a Community Preservation Act surcharge.  This law was amended by chapter 41 sections 29 and 30 of the Acts of 2019.  Effective December 31,   …Continue Reading Real Estate Recording Fees to be Increased

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone posted on Nov 13

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone

Portraits in Massachusetts Law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates. These pages provide links to biographical information abut people who have been particularly important in legal history in Massachusetts, as our government took shape in the cauldron of the American Revolution and grew and changed throughout   …Continue Reading Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone