courts and procedure

special appearance

1) The personal attendance in court of a party or attorney for the sole purpose of arguing that the court does not have personal jurisdiction over that party. If the party or attorney instead makes a "general" appearance in court, that party is presumed to have waived the right to contest the court's jurisdiction. 2) A one-time court appearance by an attorney for a party who either is represented by another attorney or is not represented at the time. Quite often an attorney will make a "special appearance" to protect the interests of a potential client, but before a fee has been paid or arranged.

special administrator

1) A person appointed by acourt to take charge of only a designated portion of an estate during probate. For example, a special administrator with particular expertise on art might be appointed to oversee the probate of a wealthy person's art collection, but not the entire estate. 2) A person appointed to be responsible for a deceased person's property for a limited time or during an emergency, such as a challenge to the will or to the qualifications of the named executor. In such cases, the special administrator's duty is to maintain and preserve the estate, not necessarily to take control of the probate process. (See also: administrator, administrator pendente lite, administrator ad litem)

small claims court

A state court that resolves disputes involving relatively small amounts of money -- usually between $2,000 and $10,000, depending on the state. Adversaries usually appear without lawyers -- in fact, some states forbid lawyers in small claims court -- and recount their side of the dispute in plain English. Evidence, including the testimony of eyewitnesses and expert witnesses, is relatively easy to present because small claims courts do not follow the formal rules of evidence that govern regular trial cases. A small claims judgment has the same force as does the judgment of any other state court, meaning that if the loser -- now called the "judgment debtor" -- fails to pay the judgment voluntarily, it can be collected using normal collection techniques, such as property liens and wage garnishments.

shortening time

A court order allowing a motion or other legal matter to be set at a time shorter than provided by law or court rules. Shortening time is usually granted when the time for trial or some other court action is approaching and a hearing must be heard promptly by the judge. Example: Local rules require that a party give the other side ten days' notice before a hearing. If the trial is set to begin in nine days, a court might shorten the time to schedule a hearing to five days, provided the notice is served within 24 hours.

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