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State Laws Trump Employer Requests Regarding Journal Custody

When a Notary in the legal profession changes jobs, the transition can sometimes create confusion in the office over who retains your notarial records. A supervising attorney may insist that the firm retain your Notary journal based on attorney-client privilege, but state laws always supersede any request by an employer. The proper response is to retain it in your custody.

Most states with recordkeeping laws specifically direct Notaries to retain custody of their journal, and to surrender them only to lawful state authorities when they resign their commissions. And generally, if a Notary fails to keep custody of their journal, they could face censure, loss of their commission, fines and even prosecution, depending on the state.

The only exceptions are Arizona and Oregon.

In Arizona, Notaries may keep two official journals: One for public acts and one for any acts protected by attorney-client privilege, or that are confidential due to state or federal law. If an Arizona Notary keeps a journal of nonpublic acts, the nonpublic journal must be surrendered to the employer upon termination of employment. (Arizona Revised Statutes 41-319[E] and the Arizona Notary Public Reference Manual)

In Oregon, a Notary may enter a voluntary agreement with an employer whereby the Notary’s official records are retained by the employer upon termination of the Notary’s employment. The employer is then responsible for disposing the records according to law. However, the Notary is required to obtain and keep a copy of the written agreement and be prepared to show it to the Secretary of State, if requested. (Oregon Revised Statutes 194.152)

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