Friday, January 23, 2004

This week's Lawyers Weekly carried an article about the governor's recently issued guidelines for notaries ("Stirct New Rule for Notaries Worries Bar"). The two biggest concerns of lawyers seemed to be that confidential client information would be disclosed in the notary journal that is subject to inspection by almost anyone. The other concern was the overall burden of recording all of the information required in the journal. Most notaries I have spoken with are pleased to have some type of formal guidance regarding how they should perform their duties although just prescribing the duties and not requiring such burdensome record keeping would probably have been enough. The governor's legal counsel indicates in the article that this is all designed to combat forgeries and fraud. But if a notary is willing to acknowledge a forged signature, what would stop that same notary for filling his journal with bogus information? It seems that this "solution" to a serious but relatively limited (in frequency) problem will create headaches for everyone. On a positive note, the chief legal counsel made it pretty clear that failure to comply with the precise notary requirements of this order should not effect whether or not the document is recorded. That's the right answer, as far as we're concerned.

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