LA House Bill 929 Notary Law Update: LA House Bill 929State: LouisianaSummary:House Bill 929 provides new rules for initiating action against the commission of a Notary for cause, adds two new qualifications for appointment as a Notary, authorizes the Secretary of State to develop an educational course to train Notaries, requires any Notary who teaches examination preparation courses to be a Notary with statewide authority after February 28, 2015, raises the fee for processing the Notary’s annual report and no longer requires the bond of a Notary commissioned in Orleans Parish to be approved by the custodian of notarial records. Signed: May 25, 2012Effective: August 01, 2012Chapter: Act No. 279Affects:Amends Sections 35:191 (A)(1)(d) and (e), 191.2 (3), 191.4 (B) through (H), and 192 (A), and enacts Sections 35:15, 15.1, 191 (A)(1)(f) and (g), 191.1 (C), and 191.4 (I) of the Louisiana Revised Statutes Changes: Authorizes the Secretary of State to develop, with the advice and assistance of Notary education professionals, an education program for the formal education of candidates for a Notary commission. Beginning February 28, 2015, requires each person who provides Notary examination preparatory education and instruction to be a commissioned Notary with statewide notarial authority. Requires an applicant for a Notary commission: (a) to have received a high school diploma, a diploma for completion of a home study program approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or have been issued a high school equivalency diploma after successfully completing the test of General Educational Development, (b) and to have not been convicted of a felony, or if convicted, have been pardoned. Raises the fee for submitting and processing a Notary’s annual report from $10 to $25. Repeals the former provision that a Notary bond in Orleans Parish must be approved by the custodian of notarial records. Specifies that a nonattorney Notary may have his or her commission and powers revoked or suspended when it is demonstrated, by clear and convincing evidence after a rule to show cause, that the Notary has engaged in: (a) dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; (b) conviction for a felony for which no pardon has been issued; (c) gross misconduct or malfeasance in the exercise of notarial powers; (d) certifying as true what he or she knew or should have known was false; (e) violation of any law governing the office of Notary or the exercise of any notarial power or duty; (f) ceasing to possess any qualification required for holding his commission as a Notary; (g) abandonment of a commission. Provides that a rule to show cause shall be instituted by the district attorney or the attorney general in the district court of either the parish in which the Notary is commissioned or the parish where the conduct complained of occurred, and that the rule to show cause must be tried in summary proceeding. Provides that a court which finds a Notary was convicted of a felony for which no pardon has been issued, or engaged in an act of gross misconduct or malfeasance in office, or ceased to possess any qualification required for holding a commission, the court shall order the revocation of the Notary’s commission and prohibit the Notary from the further exercise of notarial powers. Provides that a court which finds a Notary has committed any act outlined in #6 above may revoke the Notary’s commission and prohibit the Notary from notarizing, or may suspend the Notary for a specific period of time. Provides that a court ordering the revocation of a Notary’s commission or the suspension of notarial powers must order a judgment for attorney fees and court costs, and possible restitution to persons as the court determines were damaged by the Notary’s misconduct. Provides that when the rule to show cause is instituted against a nonattorney, ex-officio Notary, or for a Notary’s performance on behalf of an employer as authorized by law, then the person appointing the ex-officio Notary or the person's employer, as applicable, shall also be named as a defendant and required to show cause why the notarial powers or commission should not be revoked. However, any additional defendant named shall not be cast in judgment for attorney fees, costs, or restitution. Requires the Secretary of State to suspend the commission of a nonattorney Notary when the Notary ceases to be a registered voter in the Notary’s parish, or is convicted of a felony by sending a notice of suspension by certified mail, return receipt requested. Provides that a notice of suspension issued to a Notary shall give the Notary 10 days to register as a voter before the Secretary notifies the district attorney in the Notary’s parish to institute a rule to show cause to revoke the commission of the Notary. Provides that if a Notary is suspended from office due to conviction of a felony, the period of suspension shall continue until the conviction is final and all appellate review of the original trial court proceedings has been exhausted and, if the conviction becomes final after all appellate review, the Secretary shall notify the district attorney of the Notary’s parish to institute a rule to show cause to revoke the Notary’s commission. Provides that a conviction against a Notary that is reversed upon appeal, or a pardon that is issued for the conviction, shall terminate the suspension of the Notary’s commission and cause the commission to be reinstated. Analysis:House Bill 929 institutes a number of changes for Louisiana Notaries Public. It includes two new qualifications for a commission, authorizes the Secretary of State to create an educational course for educating candidates for a commission, requires any person who teaches Notary examination preparatory classes to be a Notary with statewide authority (effective February 28, 2015), and repeals the former provision that a Notary bond in Orleans Parish must be approved by the custodian of notarial records. The bill also institutes new rules for the revocation and suspension of nonattorney Notary commissions, including rules to guide the courts in lodging charges. The bill specifies 7 grounds for which a Notary’s commission may be revoked or suspended. These grounds also apply to nonattorney ex officio Notaries who engage in misconduct. Interestingly, in court actions against a nonattorney ex officio Notary, the employer or agency naming the ex officio Notary is also to be named as a defendant in the action for the purpose of showing cause for why the Notary’s powers should not be revoked. Upon conviction or suspension of a Notary’s commission, the court must order a judgment against the Notary for attorney fees and court costs, and possible restitution to persons as the court determines were damaged by the Notary’s misconduct. Read the bill text.