I enjoyed your story about notary misconduct ("Law & Error," cover story, Nov. 8). As a notary trainer for nearly 10 years, I find it unfortunate that such malfeasance still occurs. I was satisfied to see, however, that the notaries in question knew what they were doing was wrong. I think this is likely due to the state's relatively new training requirement. That being said, notary misconduct of this nature is not unique to Colorado. In fact, the National Mortgage Settlement determined that notary misconduct (i.e., violation of the physical presence requirement) played a part in the mortgage meltdown.
One point of clarification in your story. You said that the notary must witness the signature of the person for whom the notarization is being performed. This is not always the case. When performing an acknowledgment, the document can be pre-signed and brought to the notary for notarization. Conversely, an oath or affirmation (which are usually found on affidavits) must be signed in front of the notary. When performing an oath/affirmation, the notary is also required to administer an oath or affirmation to the signer.
Regardless of the notary act being performed, the notarization must still (and always) occur in the physical presence of the notary.
— Andrew Whitfield, Westminster
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