CA Assembly Bill 434 | NNA
Law

CA Assembly Bill 434

Notary Law Update: CA Assembly Bill 434

State: California

Summary:

Government Code Section 8206 has required Notaries to provide a photocopy of a line item in the official Notary journal to any member of the public who presents a written request identifying the parties, the type of document and the month and year notarized for many years. However, the law did not specify a time frame in which the Notary was required to respond to these requests. Assembly Bill 434 requires Notaries to respond to requests for journal photocopies within 15 business days, but also allows a Notary to defend a delayed action to respond on the basis of unavoidable, exigent business or personal circumstances.

Signed:  October 11, 2007

Effective:  January 01, 2008

Chapter: 496

Affects:

Adds Section 8206.5 to the California Government Code

Changes:
  1. Requires a Notary to respond within 15 business days to a written request for a photocopy of a journal line item by a member of the public by: (a) providing the requested copy, or (b) acknowledging that the journal line item does not exist.
  2. Permits a Notary to defend noncompliance with the new law in a disciplinary proceeding based upon “unavoidable, exigent business or personal circumstances.”
Analysis:

Assembly Bill 434 requires a Notary to respond to a written request to supply a photocopy of a line item in the Notary’s official journal within a maximum 15 business days (21 calendar days). The bill was sponsored by the California Bar Association, Conference of Delegates, who claimed that attorneys throughout the state were experiencing delays in obtaining requested photocopies of journal entries. A Notary has a statutory duty to provide photocopies of journal entries to any member of the public who presents a written request specifying the name or names of the parties, the type of document and the month and year notarized (Government Code Section 8206[c]).

The NNA lobbied to lengthen the time frame to 30 calendar days, which led to the amendment allowing a Notary to defend a delayed response based upon “unavoidable, exigent business or personal circumstances.” This was a reasonable compromise in light of the fact that there could be legitimate cases when a Notary could not respond to a request within the 15-business day time frame. For example, the Notary could be out of the country on a lengthy vacation or attending to a family emergency. Under such circumstances, a Notary could not “delegate” the task of providing the photocopy to a co-worker or associate, because only the Notary can fulfill such requests. (For years, the law has required a Notary to keep the journal under the Notary’s exclusive control and in a locked and secured area when not in use.) Some may question what constitutes an “unavoidable, exigent circumstance,” but clearly, the circumstance must be of an urgent and unavoidable nature.

It should be remembered that unless the specific written request is provided, a Notary has no obligation to provide the requested journal photocopy within the required time frame.

Read the bill text.

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