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Can A Lawyer Subpoena Sections Of My Notary Journal?

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I’ve been subpoenaed to provide copies of my Notary journal entries where a certain person signed. But instead of asking for specific entries, the attorney requests all entries involving this signer from April 2006 to the present. Does the attorney need to give me exact information on what entries she wants or is she allowed to be so vague? Am I expected to search through my journals for the past nine years? S.K., Orange, California

You must follow the directions of the subpoena for providing certified copies of entries in your journal.

If the attorney’s request is separate from the request for entries in the subpoena, the attorney must comply with Government Code Section 8206(c), which states that a member of the public requesting a line item from a Notary’s journal must specify the names of the parties, the type of document and the month and year the document was notarized in a written request. If the attorney is able to meet the requirements, you must provide a copy of the requested line item in your journal within 15 business days or acknowledge that no such line item exists (Government Code Section 8206.5).

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

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Mister J

11 Sep 2015

Would there be a problem with providing the attorneys with a copy of the whole journal and making *them* search through it to find individual line items for themselves? It seems like confidentiality laws should prevent them from disclosing the other records that are unrelated to the search.

National Notary Association

14 Sep 2015

Hello. Allowing another individual to search through your journal indiscriminately would be a breach of privacy, as you are giving the searcher unrestricted access to private information of signers in unrelated journal entries. In the state of California, Government Code Section 8206 specifically prohibits Notaries from turning their journal over to anyone except a law enforcement officer investigating a crime, or to the county clerk's office when the Notary resigns his or her commission. Other state laws regarding journals vary, but even if not specifically addressed in statute, Notaries should never provide private information about signers in a journal entry to an unauthorized individual.

Lou Matta

10 Nov 2015

On a seperate note: More and more companies are contractually requiring blanket rights to provide all background information [not just the date and that a notary passed scrutiny by, say, NNA] to their clients and individuals requesting such information. First, we should object to this oversealous contract requirement. Secondly [worth your investigation] what encryptions are used to safeguard our information in the possesion of the signing- title companies and banks? It contains very in depth identy information. And what processes are in place to notify and compensate us [for corrective safeguard action] if there is a security breach.


22 Aug 2016

That answer was not helpful at all, as it is not clear that the attorney request was not the actual subpoena. (Which, I suspect, is the case.) It seems to me the answer is "yes, you must search the journal, or seek to limit the time frame to the last 5 years." 10 years is over broad. Legally.

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