California Procedure,  Judgment,  Jurisdiction

O.J.’s Jurisdictional Challenge Goes Nowhere

Does a court need to have personal jurisdiction over a judgment debtor at the time it renews a judgment in order for that renewal to be valid? In Goldman v. Simpson, case no. B200082 (2d Dist. Feb. 20, 2008), O.J. Simpson moved to vacate the renewal of the judgment against him on the ground it was void for lack of personal jurisdiction because he resided in Florida at the time the court renewed the judgment. He appealed from the denial of the motion to vacate. The Court of Appeal affirms.

Code of Civil Procedure section 683.170, subdivision (a) provides in part that “[t]he renewal of a judgment pursuant to this article may be vacated on any ground that would be a defense to an action on the judgment.” Simpson contended that because lack of personal jurisdiction could be raised in an action on the judgment, he could raise it in his motion to vacate. However, a successful jurisdictional defense in any action on the judgment would have to attack jurisdiction to enter the original judgment. The court notes that “it is an entirely different matter to contend that the renewed judgment must be vacated because the debtor has insufficient personal contacts with the state to confer personal jurisdiction at the time of the renewal.” (Emphasis in original.)

The court finds no independent jurisdictional requirement for renewal. Code of Civil Procedure section 410.50, subdivision (b) provides that once subject matter and personal jurisdiction have been established, this jurisdiction “continues throughout subsequent proceedings in the action.” The court logically holds that renewal of a judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 683.120 is a “subsequent proceeding” for purposes of section 410.05o, for at least two reasons: (1) the renewed judgment exists only as a derivative of the original judgment, and (2) renewal under section 683.120 is a purely ministerial act that merely extends the life of the original judgment.