Bailiff never informed the judge that I showed up after 1st roll call and I never heard my name again. Afterwards the bailiff just told me I was late and to to get the minute order. I got a FTA and my answer stricken and judgement of default.
Having an answer stricken is a serious sanction, likely means you were given a chance or two before that happened. The bailiff should have notified the clerk of your presence, and if you were present, then you were not FTA. I agree it may be easier to make a motion to set it aside, however, as chances of winning on appeal in this situation are slim to none. Exhaust your remedies in the trial court before you go to the court of appeal. You cannot say things for 1st time in the court of appeal, so it is even more important you first seek to set it aside. Good luck!
THe better approach would be to file a motion to set aside per Cal. Code of Civ. Proc 473 for inadvertence..
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