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Subpoenaed Notary: You’ve Been Served!

Keeping organized journal records can help a Notary provide accurate testimony in court if they are subpoenaed.

My mom thought nothing of the knock on the door, until she opened to find a police officer with a subpoena.

“You’ve been served with a mandatory court appearance,” the officer told her.

For my mom, who has been a Florida Notary Public and Notary signing agent for over 12 years, this was a first. Anyone who has done a signing knows that this is every Notary’s worst nightmare.

A Notary's Reaction
 

Startled and concerned that somebody thought she had done something wrong, she immediately contacted the attorney listed on the subpoena. The attorney informed her that she had been the NSA for a refinance closing in 2013, and the signer was now involved in a federal grand jury trial. The signer had been accused of committing mortgage fraud for over $500,000.

The attorney explained that my mother had not done anything wrong and was not in trouble; she simply needed her to testify in court during the trial. Still, it was unnerving.

The attorney briefed my mother about the questions she planned to ask:

  • Did you meet with the signer for the closing?
  • Did the signer present you with a valid form of ID?
  • On the date of the signing were you indeed a commissioned Florida Notary Public?

The attorney also said she would show my mom the mortgage document and ask if that was her signature.

Preparing For The Trial
 

In preparation for the trial, my mom looked through her Notary journal to confirm that she had indeed handled the signing for accused signer. She looked through her emails to find the confirmation from the signing company that had hired her. She called the signing company to double-confirm the signing had occurred and she asked them to confirm that a copy of the borrowers ID was in the signers file. It was.

Fortunately she keeps organized records and saves all signing confirmations, so she could look back and reference them before the trial. While she did not need it, it also was comforting to know that her errors & omissions policy would have protected her had a claim been levied against her.

The court date was scheduled, and my mom got ready to attend. Luckily the day before the trial, the attorney called to say that she no longer needed my mother to testify because the signer had pleaded guilty to all the charges.

An Important Reminder
 

As Notaries and signing agents, we deal with many important legal documents. Even if we follow all the laws and keep an amazing Notary journal there will always be bad people trying to break the law.

This is a great reminder to always ask to see the signer’s valid form of ID, follow the Notary laws and keep proper records because you never know when you’ll be the one getting a knock on your door to appear in court.

Amanda Doumanian Reeves has worked as a mobile Notary in Tallahassee, Florida, for five years and helps run a thriving business, A Notary on the Go, with her family.

11 Comments

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Jamie Smith Liggins

08 Jul 2015

This is an EXCELLENT article to show that notary signing agents should keep good records especially those Louisiana notaries who are not required to have a notary journal. Good training and housekeeping ethical sense always prompts me to make and keep a journal entry for every job I do. Also, I have never been subpoenaed for my work but have been used as an notary expert witness in other cases where I had to speak on notary law. Notary ethics is serious!

Courtney Andryka

08 Jul 2015

interesting newsletter read but cannot read without commenting.

National Notary Association

08 Jul 2015

Hello. You should be able to view the article without posting a comment. If you are having an issue, please email us at social@nationalnotary.org, let us know what device and browser you are using and describe the error you are encountering, and we'll be happy to help you resolve the issue.

awjnotary@hotmail.com

08 Jul 2015

For that kind of testimony she should have been compensated for her time as an expert witness.

Jack J Miller

08 Jul 2015

I was subpoenaed as the notary for a Power of Attorney given to a care giver. The care giver and her husband later cleaned out the bank account. I felt comfortable with my actions as a notary and had completed appropriate steps, but the thought of a court appearance was still daunting. It is very important to definitively determine competency and willingness to sign in any care home situation. If you have any question: get more information about who you are dealing with. The court date was postponed several times, thus raising havoc with my planned vacations. Eventually the defendant plea bargained and my appearance was no longer needed. I’m glad there was only this one time in my 17 years as a notary.

Bruce Tapert

08 Jul 2015

Good to know.

michelle

09 Jul 2015

thank goodness she kept proper documents, even though she didn't need it.

Lor

12 Jul 2015

Great lessons learned story...I am happy to know she was prepared and all went well.

Lisa N. Kane

13 Jul 2015

I have been subpoenaed twice and both were for Power of Attorney documents. In both cases my notary journal and a brief statement under oath was all that was required of me to prove I identified the client properly. I always take the thumb print of the person giving their POA as proof that we met in person as well. Keeping a journal is very important!

MisterJ

22 Jul 2015

Oh no, not this again! Legally, there is NO SUCH THING as a "notary signing agent." It's all just a marketing push for another niche commercial certification with absolutely no bearing on licensing or recognition by the state government. A state commissions you in the public office of "notary public," nothing more, nothing less. I find it rather distasteful to try to tack on extra commercialized "qualifications" and present them as being on the same level as, or "better" than, a public office in and of itself.

Kelley

20 Sep 2015

Great article! Great reminder to keep permanent records of everything

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