Courts are created by statute. Their jurisdiction or authority is limited to the areas specified by the law, together with the inherent powers possessed by all courts. Inherent powers are powers reasonably necessary for the administration of justice. They are powers considered essential to the existence and proper functioning of the courts. This article discusses a court's inherent power to regulate the judicial system, to regulate the practice of law, and to adopt court rules.
Power to Regulate Judicial System
One power that is considered inherent in a court is the authority to manage and regulate the judicial system. Courts manage court personnel and court finances. They also have authority in case management, such as trial calendars and docketing matters. Courts have adopted judicial codes of ethics, and they discipline judges who engage in misconduct. Courts also have inherent power to amend their own court records and to correct errors of court officers, such as the court clerk, that may occur.
Power to Regulate the Practice of Law
Courts have inherent or incidental powers to govern and regulate the practice of law. Courts control the admission of attorneys to the practice of law before state and federal courts. Discipline, ranging from reprimands to disbarment, may be imposed by the courts on attorneys who have been found guilty of misconduct. Courts also have inherent power to control courtroom misbehavior and to enforce court orders. Trial lawyers can be sanctioned for contempt based on misconduct during a trial. Courts have inherent authority to appoint counsel to represent indigents.
Power to Adopt Court Rules
Courts have an inherent power to make all rules needed to govern the juridical process and to assure the orderly conduct of the judicial system. Thus, courts have adopted rules as to forms to be used in court, service of process, and the time and manner of court proceedings. However, a court's rulemaking authority is limited. A court cannot adopt a rule that would broaden or limit its jurisdiction or change any laws.
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