Inquisitorial Justice in U.S. Fed Courts U.S.D.C. (M.D. of Florida)
In a recent case, Scott Huminski v. Hon. John E. Steele, 2:13-CV-685-FTM-29DNF, a growing trend towards an inquisitorial justice system in the U.S. Federal Courts has become evident, in contrast to the traditional adversarial system. U.S. District Court Judge Steele sua sponte summarily dismissed a federal civil rights complaint based upon an affirmative defense without notice to the parties and has used this inquisitorial approach in other cases. The inquisitorial system is popular in continental Europe especially in criminal cases (e.g. Princess Diana investigation, Amanda Knox murder case). Until now, sua sponte summary dismissals in the U. S. Courts were reserved for jurisdictional defects. Judge Steele, not only proffered an affirmative defense for himself, he forwarded the defense for his coworkers at the Fort Myers, Florida federal courthouse. Pursuant to the federal rules of civil procedure, affirmative defenses are/were traditionally proffered by the defendants in an answer or in a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Huminski
Steele denied Huminski’s Rule 60 motion without a mention of Huminski’s argu
ments that sua sponte summary dismissal grounded upon an affirmative defense is illegal and Steele ignored all authorities cited by Huminski including the seminal case on the issue, http://www.scribd.com/doc/230305785/Judge-John-E-Steele-throws-out-lawsuit-against-himself Oddly enough, Huminski cited his own case from a decade earlier whereby the full Vermont Supreme Court condemned sua sponte dispositive court acts in a case also involving Huminski.
Huminski v. LaVoie, 173 Vt. 517, 519-20, 787 A.2d 489, 492-93 (2001) (Full Court opinion)(condemning sua sponte summary dispositive acts of a court without notice and opportunity to be heard)
http://libraries.vermont.gov/sites/libraries/files/supct/173/99-330eo.txt State Courts have rejected the trend towards inquisitional justice and the U.S. federal judiciary is leaning towards this approach essentially reducing or eliminating the need for attorneys at the federal level. In Huminski v. Steele, even the parties are eliminated from litigation after a Complaint is filed. The inquisitorial system is used in various countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world, but, input from the parties and their counsel is allowed unlike the model employed by the Florida federal courts. A new more powerful federal judiciary that replaces attorneys and the arguments of the parties with sua sponte court orders is taking hold in the United States to quickly dispose of civil rights cases. These cases are generally brought intending to curb the abuse of power of federal