What is a Motion to Appear?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 07 February 2020
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A motion to appear is a legal motion filed in court to request the permission of a judge for a court appearance in special circumstances. There are several different types of motions to appear that can be used in court. Many courts provide blank documents that people can fill out with the details of a specific situation to file a motion. These forms can be useful because as long as they are filled out in full, they are correct, and time will not be wasted by filing a motion that will be rejected because it is incomplete.

One type of motion to appear is a request to be allowed to appear by telephone. People may request this option if attending in court is a hardship. A motion to appear by telephone can be filed by either side in a case. If granted by the judge, when the person is due in court he or she will be called instead, and a speakerphone will be used for the court proceedings. Such motions can be used for a variety of reasons, ranging from a desire to save time to physical disability that makes court attendance difficult.


A motion to appear pro hac vice, “for this instance,” is another example. If an attorney is not admitted to practice in a given jurisdiction, a motion can be filed to request permission from the judge to appear in court on a legal matter. Lawyers who wish to appear in courts where they are not authorized to practice must usually provide a letter of reference from the bar association in the region where they are allowed to practice and may be required to submit other supporting data to argue their motions.

As with other legal motions, the decision to grant the motion is at the discretion of the judge. The judge weighs the legal ramifications of the situation, the reasoning put forward by the person who filed the motion, and any opposition presented by the counsel for the other side. If the judge feels that granting the motion would interfere with a fair trial or set a precedent that might be inadvisable, the motion will be denied.

It can be advisable to research a judge's history before filing a motion to appear. Knowing how a judge tends to respond to motions and taking special note of cases where motions were granted can help people craft a more effective motion that will be more likely to yield the desired response. Failure to consider previous history with the judge or the case when writing a motion may result in a denial.


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