Porras v. Jefferson, __ S.W.3rd __ (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, no. pet. h.).
A trial court has certain “inherent powers” it can utilize to aid in the exercise of its jurisdiction, in the administration of justice, and in preservation of its independence and integrity. Examples of such powers include the ability to:
- change, set aside or otherwise control judgments;
- summon and compel the attendance of witnesses;
- punish by contempt
- regulate the admission and practice of law;
- provide personnel to aid the court in exercise of its judicial function;
- control the disposition of cases “with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants”;
- properly intervene to maintain control in the courtroom, to expedite the trial, and to prevent what it considers a waste of time; and
- dismiss a case for want of prosecution.
A trial court’s inherent power does not, however, confer upon the court the authority to adjudicate the merits of claims without a pending motion (e.g., a pending motion for summary judgment or a motion for directed verdict).
The trial court’s order of dismissal in this case explains it all:
In pretrial proceedings, the Court ascertained the nature of this claim together with the evidence upon which this claim is based. Following a review of the evidence and contract in question, along with arguments of counsel on the evidence and the applicable law, the Court finds that there was no breach of contract in question nor recoverable damages.
This, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, held, was an abuse of discretion.