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The Notary's Role In Depositions

Depositions play an essential role in many legal proceedings and typically require the participation of an official who can administer oaths and affirmations, such as a Notary. But some states also permit Notaries expanded roles in the preparation of depositions. Before accepting any notarial request involving a deposition, however, it’s essential to make sure you have both the necessary skills and the legal authorization to proceed.

A deposition is a signed transcript of an oral statement made by an individual (the “deponent”) for use in a legal matter. In executing a deposition, the deponent is first sworn to tell the truth and then asked a series of questions by attorneys. The deponent’s answers are taken down and transcribed in typed form, after which the deponent signs the typed deposition before an official witness.

The role of Notaries in taking depositions varies depending on state law. Virtually all states allow a Notary to swear in a deponent, but some states, such as Massachusetts, authorize Notaries to swear in the deponent and transcribe the deposition. However, strict rules of procedure dictate how depositions are executed, and the NNA strongly advises Notaries to take depositions only if they have the appropriate professional training. If you do not have such training, you should refer the request to a court reporter or other legal professional with the necessary skills. In fact, some states, such as Montana, only permit Notaries with training as court reporters or paralegals to take depositions. Always be sure to follow your state’s laws when you are asked to take a deposition.

If you are asked simply to swear in the deponent for a deposition that will be taken by a non-Notary court reporter or to execute the jurat on the typed transcript signed by the deponent, that’s no problem. In these cases, you are being asked only to perform a standard notarial act and may administer the oath or affirmation or execute the jurat without any special training or additional qualifications.

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rick rickerson

17 Feb 2020

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