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Notary Law Update: House Bill 304

Description:

House Bill 304 prohibits the Lieutenant Governor from issuing an Apostille or certification for any document that is improperly notarized if notarization is required, or a document related to a purported government or sovereignty or "in itinere" status that seeks to legitimize the activities of certain individuals known as "freemen" or "sovereign citizens."

State: Utah

Effective: May 12, 2010

Signed: March 29, 2010

Chapter:

Affects: Adopts Section 67-1a-13 of the Utah Code Annotated

Changes:

1. Prohibits the Lieutenant Governor from authenticating (1) any document that is improperly notarized if notarization is required, or (2) a document related to a purported government or jurisdiction, sovereignty or "in itinere" status (Latin, "on the journey").

Analysis:

Utah House Bill 304 enacts in statute a matter of policy that has been followed by the Utah Lieutenant Governor's office for a number of years concerning authentication of notarized documents. First, it prohibits the Lieutenant Governor from issuing an Apostille or certification on any document that has been improperly notarized, provided the document is required by law to be notarized. Utah has taken the position that only
properly notarized documents may be authenticated. The other position, which is held by a large number of states, is that by issuing an Apostille or certification, the commissioning official is not certifying the propriety of the underlying document or transaction, only the authenticity of the signature and seal of the Notary on the document and the validity of the Notary's commission. Second, HB 304 prohibits the Lieutenant Governor from authenticating any document related to allegiance to a government, sovereignty or "in itinere" status. There are pockets or remnants of "freemen" or "sovereign citizens" in the United States who have disavowed their U.S. citizenship and claim to be free from the laws of the U.S. These individuals often seek to use their status as"in itinere" to claim that they are a "jurisdiction" unto themselves , that is, they can live by the laws of their choosing while they are in the United States. Please see the "Notice of In Itinere Status" document that is included at the end of this Alert. The Notice is taken to a Notary and then presented to the Lieutenant Governor for an Apostille. These freemen or sovereign citizens may also abuse the traditional notarial protest provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code to absolve themselves from paying taxes, repaying their mortgages and generally avoiding debt obligations. The U.S. State Department has said, "Documents concerning U.S. citizenship, allegiance to the United States or any U.S. state or other jurisdiction, sovereignty, Actual Notice of In Itinere Status and World Service Authority (or similar) so called "citizenship" documents, have no force or validity, and could be used for fraudulent or criminal purposes. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad have been instructed to refuse to provide authentication or notarial services for such documents under the refusal authority provided in 22 CFR 92.9 and 22 CFR 131.2. The Department of State recommends that state Secretaries of State and Notary Public Administrators refuse to notarize, authenticate, or affix the Hague Apostille to such documents" (http://www.state.gov/s/l/2004/78077.htm). Thus, HB 304 now provides
statutory authorization for the Lieutenant Governor to refuse to authenticate such documents that are sought by sovereign citizens to buttress their claims to be a country unto themselves. According to Utah Notary Administrator Spencer Hadley, this law is needed to uphold the integrity of the Utah State Seal, which is affixed to any document
carrying an Apostille, and of Apostilles themselves.

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