When a summons is served on an individual defendant, the law requires a "due diligent effort" at personal service before "substituted service" may be made. (See Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 415.20(a)) Each California Superior Court has different due diligence requirements. Some requirements are written in Local Rules that are subject to change without notice. Some are unwritten.
Generally, due diligence is:
- 3 or 4 separate attempts on different days
- 3 attempts on any day as long as they are spanned by 6 hours
- 3 attempts on different days during a specified span of hours
- Some require a weekend attempt
The due diligence rules vary widely between counties, and occasionally, within a county between branch courts. Some vary between the Limited and Unlimited Jurisdiction cases. Each Presiding Judge has the prerogative to dictate a change that, on the surface, seems arbitrary and peculiar. In most counties, a new Presiding Judge is rotated in every year, after a vote of all judges as a function of the court's administrative process. Some county courts have only one judge.
Local substituted service rules are strictly construed by local courts, especially when a local rule or presiding judge dictates it. If a substituted service diligence requirement is not met, and substantially differs from the court's specified time and "number of days" requirement, the court could reject the proof of service or a request to enter the default. The service previously performed could be invalidated by the court default clerk based upon these specific due diligence requirements.
Alternatively, the court could reconsider the clerk's rejection, but it would involve a special filing of an application or motion to the court for appropriate relief.
Due Diligence Requirements by County
The following are specific "due diligence" Local Rules of Court and Court Policies for selected counties. Those not listed have not been found, or there may not be a specific local rule, but may have an informal court policy regarding this. Please notify us of any written or unwritten due diligence policies by providing a court memo, rule, or describing them.
|Alameda||San Bernardino||San Diego||San Francisco||San Joaquin|
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