Friday, May 30, 2008
Notary Publics are important to the legal system as many court documents must be notarized. However, it is very easy to become a notary and there is not much litigation over the scope of their authority. Edwards v. Rockaway Storage, ___Misc. 3d___(Queens Co. April 28, 2008)(registration required), is one such case. Unfortunately, the decision is not particularly well written. However, it does seem to stand for the proposition that a notary has no duty to investigate the reliability of documents that he or she has been presented. As the court stated:
One of the principle functions of a New York notary is to verify the identity of a person signing a document so that when submitted to court, for example, the power of a notary may be relied upon to authenticate the document as being from an out-of-court but under-oath declarant. Notarization itself, however, is only evidence that the document was affirmed and signed before an authorized official. Notarial misconduct can be for wilful, fraudulent or negligent actions of a notary. The Plaintiff must also prove that he or she was injured and that there was reliance to his or her detriment on the alleged negligence of the Notary Public. See, Plemmenou v. Anninos, 12 A.D.3d 657, 785 N.Y.S.2d 120 (2d Dep't 2004). Rastelli v. Gassman, 231 AD2d 507 (2d Dept 1996.)
Here, Mr. Chamblin was given acceptable proof of identification. This Court is not inclined to adopt Rockaway's claim that there is a duty on a Notary to verify the validity of the driver's licenses or to make copies of the licenses.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein