The term "appearance" is defined as (1) a coming into court as a party to a suit, either in person or by attorney, whether as plaintiff or defendant; (2) the formal proceeding by which a defendant submits him or herself to the jurisdiction of the court; and (3) the voluntary submission to a court's jurisdiction [Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979)].

"General" vs. "Special" Appearance

An "appearance" is either "general" or "special" [see Black's Law Dictionary (5th ed. 1979)]. By a general appearance, the defendant submits to the in personam jurisdiction of the court; in the case of a special appearance, he or she does not [Titus v. Superior Court (1972) 23 Cal. App. 3d 792, 800-801, 100 Cal. Rptr. 477] .

"General Appearance"

A general appearance is made when a defendant either enters an appearance in an action without limiting the purpose of the appearance or, except as otherwise provided by statute, when he or she asks for relief which only a court with personal jurisdiction over him or her can give [see Davenport v. Superior Court (1920) 183 Cal. 506, 511, 191 P. 911; Olcese v. Justice's Court (1909) 156 Cal. 82, 87, 103 P. 317 ; see also Code Civ. Proc. § 410.10, Judicial Council Comment].

Except as otherwise provided by statute, the court in which an action is pending has jurisdiction over a party from the time summons is served on him or her. A general appearance by a party is equivalent to personal service of summons on that party [Code Civ. Proc. § 410.50(a); see, e.g., Harrington v. Superior Court (1924) 194 Cal. 185, 189, 228 P. 15; Southern Pac. Transportation Co. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1985) 175 Cal. App. 3d 438, 442, 221 Cal. Rptr. 12 ; Neihaus v. Superior Court (1977) 69 Cal. App. 3d 340, 345, 137 Cal. Rptr. 905] .

A general appearance made after the mandatory period for service of summons has run [see Code Civ. Proc. § 583.210] does not give the court jurisdiction over the defendant when the summons has not been timely served [Dale v. ITT Life Ins. Corp. (1989) 207 Cal. App. 3d 495, 499 n.4, 255 Cal. Rptr. 8] .

"Special Appearance"

A special appearance is made when a defendant appears in court for the sole purpose of objecting to the court's lack of jurisdiction over his or her person, without submitting to such jurisdiction [see Greener v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Board (1993) 6 Cal. 4th 1028, 1036-1037, 25 Cal. Rptr. 2d 539, 863 P.2d 784 ; Olcese v. Justice's Court (1909) 156
Cal. 82, 87, 103 P. 317 ; Josephson v. Superior Court (1963) 219 Cal. App. 2d 354, 361, 33 Cal. Rptr. 196] . No particular form is required, but a defendant must make it clear, normally by a formal motion to quash service of summons, that he or she objects to such jurisdiction [see Code Civ. Proc. § 410.10, Judicial Council
Comment, Bases of Judicial Jurisdiction Over Individuals, (6) Appearance, and Bases of Judicial Jurisdiction Over Corporations, (4) Appearance-Foreign Corporations].

Seeking any other relief, such as challenging subject matter jurisdiction, risks making a general appearance [see Greener v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Board (1993) 6 Cal. 4th 1028, 1036-1037, 25 Cal. Rptr. 2d 539, 863 P.2d 784; Janzen v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1997) 61 Cal. App. 4th 109, 116-117, 71 Cal. Rptr. 2d 260 ; see Great Western Casinos, Inc. v. Morongo Band of Mission Indians (1999) 74 Cal. App. 4th 1407, 1415-1418, 88 Cal. Rptr. 2d 828 (hybrid motion to quash/dismiss concerning claim of Indian sovereign immunity and federal preemption not construed as general appearance)]. There are, however, certain other acts that do not constitute general appearances
[see, e.g., Code Civ. Proc. § 418.10(d)].


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