San Francisco Superior Court Due Diligence Requirements

San Francisco Superior Court has a rather formulaic due diligence requirement for substituted service of a summons and complaint pursuant to CCP sec. 415.20, when the defendant’s business hours are unknown.

This is predicated on a San Francisco DD Memo that originated back in 1989.  I recall that there was a prior similar memo to the one signed by then Presiding Judge Lillian Sing. This memo has been reduced to a Clerk’s DD Checklist used by the default clerk – a bright line test – to determine whether the process server has exercised proper “due diligence” when substituted service is effected. The intent is to require attempts at personal service allowing for each “work shift” to be considered.

Each court can decide what constitutes “due diligence”.  The appellate courts have not specifically defined due diligence (nor could they). Due diligence varies with every fact pattern, and circumstances change.

Each California county court exercises local judicial discretion. Each has due diligence rules which can be maddening to a process server.  Some are lax, others are strict. Most counties do not publish these rules. I’m wondering why these rules, memos, policies, etc. are such a closely guarded secret by the courts.

We have made an attempt to collect those that are in writing in our Process Server Resources Wiki page. Please forward to us any written rule you find to add to this list.

If the server does not comply with the substituted service requirements, the court may deem that the sufficient “due diligence requirement” was not met requiring re-service of the defendant.

Furthermore, a court’s “due diligence” requirement may not comport with service of unlawful detainer summons when applying for a posting order.  For instance, Alameda County Superior Court requires 5 attempts before considering issuance of a posting order. San Francisco Superior Court requires an unwritten rule requiring a span of 3 hours on different days.