special appearance

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Special appearance is a tool defendants can use to challenge a court’s jurisdiction over them. If a court does not have personal jurisdiction or there are other errors like for service of process, many states allow defendants to challenge the lawsuit without submitting to a court’s jurisdiction. Normally, if the citizen were to make a general appearance, the jurisdiction issue would be waived. For federal courts and some states, a defendant does not have to make a special appearance, but they are required to challenge the given error before addressing the actual claim itself as one would in a general appearance. Special appearance may also refer to other unique appearances by an attorney or individual such as an attorney appearing before being assigned to the case.

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team