Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wrapping up e-recording demos

The last of the electronic recording demonstrations for registry personnel was today at the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds. Monday’s was in Springfield and yesterday’s was in Lowell. Representatives of 15 of the state’s 21 registries attended at least one of the events and a few attended more than one. Besides being spread around the state geographically (Plymouth, Springfield, Lowell), each of the three sites uses a different electronic recording module. In Lowell, it’s the ACS system; Springfield has Browntech; and Plymouth uses the Simplifile system. It was especially valuable to hear and see how each of these three offices handles electronic recordings. Hopefully this weeklong orientation session will speed the rollout of e-recording to other registries.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

E-Recording in Hampden County

Yesterday I travelled to Springfield for the first of three regional meetings of the state’s registers of deeds on the topic of electronic recording. The second meeting will be held here in Lowell tomorrow and the third and final meeting will be Thursday in Plymouth. Besides being spread around the state, these three registries are the only ones in the Commonwealth that are currently using electronic recording. These meetings have a number of objectives. One is to allow personnel from other registries to see electronic recording in action and to discuss it’s impact on registry operations with those who are actually doing it. Another objective is to work on a standard contract between the registry and the end-user of the electronic recording system (i.e., the lawyer submitting the documents) that clearly lays out the duties and responsibilities of the parties. The meeting in Hampden County was informative and well-done. It was attended by representatives from the following registries: Berkshire Middle, Berkshire South, Essex North, Franklin, Hampden, Middlesex North and Norfolk. Check back for updates on Thursday and Friday on the upcoming meetings.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Watermarks on documents

An early draft of the Formatting Standards contained a prohibition on recording documents that contained a “watermark” but the final version that is contained in the current Deed Indexing Standards is silent on the watermark issue. That is unfortunate, because we have started to receive death certificates that have the word “copy” embedded throughout as a watermark. Presumably this is someone in government’s effort to prevent the copying of these documents so that people will be forced to purchase multiple copies of the document rather than relying on photocopies. It couldn’t be to prevent attempts to pass off photocopies as originals since all original death certificates always bear the raised seal of the issuing office, a physical change to the document that certainly can’t be reproduced by a copying machine. While I don’t want to question the motives of whomever designed this anti-copying system, I wll say that they have really messed up the ability of the registry of deeds to include such documents in our records. As you can see from this document, the watermark that was nearly invisible on the original has completely obscurred all meaningful information on the scanned copy in the official records of the registry of deeds - all but the social security number of the deceased which I have manually redacted with the blue box. I expect to raise this issue of unreproduceable death certificates at future meetings of the registers of deeds association so that we can take collective action to preserve the integrity of our land records.