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What Would You Do: The Case Of The Child Servant

Are you allowed to notarize a child servant document?

The Notary Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging situations. To boost your knowledge of Notary best practices, we’ve created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask a simple question: What would you do?

It’s late in the day when a well-dressed woman comes to you to get her signature notarized on what she describes as a simple agreement. She gives you a hand-written document, and you proceed to quickly scan it for the information you need to complete your journal entry.

Several words jump out at you, and you realize that the document is an agreement for your signer to purchase a 10-year-old Haitian boy as an indentured servant for 10 years. You’ve never seen anything like this, and you’re not sure if it’s legal for someone to “purchase” an indentured servant.

But all she is asking you to do is perform an acknowledgment. She has proper ID, there are no blank spaces on the document and the notarization she is asking you to perform is lawful.

What Would You Do?

Do you comply with her request? Do you refuse? What are your options as a Notary?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do?” scenario, share your answers in the comments section below. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this notarial challenge.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

WWYD: 2 Women, Same Name — Your Answers

WWYD: Answers To The Case Of The Anonymous Egg Donor

WWYD: Answers To The Case Of The Transgender Signer

Additional Resources:

NNA Webinar: Strange, Unusual and Bizarre Requests

State Law Summaries

NNA Hotline

126 Comments

Add your comment

Emily

09 May 2016

This may be legal, but not moral. Sorry I would not notarize this for religious principles.

Kathryn Malley

09 May 2016

Human trafficking is illegal and the document should not be notarized. Contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center www.traffickingresourcecenter.org at 888-373-7888 to report a tip and gain access to resources to advocate for the human rights of the child.

Diane Elliott

09 May 2016

I would notarize identity, then call child protective services. What she is doing is against the law

Elaine Wright Harris

09 May 2016

After 14 years of being a Notary Public, this request for notarizing a document involving the “purchasing of a child servant" immediately made me think about the oath of office I pledged upon becoming a Notary Public: “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will support the constitution of the United States and that you will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland, and support the constitution and laws thereof, and that you will to the best of your skill and judgment, diligently and faithfully, and without partiality or prejudice execute the office as NOTARY PUBLIC for Prince George’s County [Maryland], according to the constitution and laws thereof.” I immediately did a Google search on “child servitude” which brought me to the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery: “Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Due to the information stated above, I would refuse to perform the notarization. I would tell the signer, “Based on the oath I took as a Notary Public to support the constitution of the United States which states that, “… involuntary servitude shall not exist in the United States,” I cannot notarize this document;.” I would notate the reason why I refused in my journal.

Lillian Eagan

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize citing the question of the legality of the transaction. Just because you have a contract, that does not make an illegal transaction legal. As notary, I claim the right to refuse service on that basis.

Susan Perry

09 May 2016

No, I would not. Purchasing a child is morally reprehensible. I want no part of that.

Susan Perry

09 May 2016

No, I would not. Purchasing a child is morally reprehensible. I want no part of that.

Vanessa Cournoyer

09 May 2016

What Would You Do: The Case Of The Child Servant - Even if it is lawful, I would not do it. She has a right to go to any notary so I would tell her to please contact another Notary.

Mary Gavalas

09 May 2016

I would step away from the woman and then I would call the police.

E Murphy Amlee

09 May 2016

A contract for slavery or indentured servitude is illegal and should not be notarized.

Christine Renz

09 May 2016

A notary can refuse service if she suspects the document is illegal. Could she excuse herself to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service for guidance?

Lorraine Ohrenich

09 May 2016

I would not notarize the document because I believe the document was for an illegal act. I would also try to get down the signer's ID information in order to report it to the local police for follow-up.

Rebecca J Harris

09 May 2016

I have no comment because I cannot see the information.

Gerry

09 May 2016

Like many other notaries, I'm involved in other activities. In my case, I'm an EMT, which makes me a mandatory reporter for suspected child abuse. I would be compelled by law to report the incident to the police and the Department of Children and Families.

Mark D Stelter

09 May 2016

I would check with the local State's Attorney's office to verify if such an arrangement was legal before providing the notary. I can't imagine that purchasing a 10-year-old Haitian boy as an indentured servant for 10 years is legal but I would want to have some legal support in the event that my refusal spawned legal action.

Mary Fahey

09 May 2016

I would notarize the document and let INS know about what she is doing after I checked with my attorney that I could legally inform someone about what was going to occur.

David Gordon

09 May 2016

The notarization should be refused, as it is both illegal and against public policy in all states of the USA. Notaries have an obligation to decline notarizing if they happen to have knowledge that the underlying transaction is illegal. This would be similar to a situation where a notary is asked to administer and certify an oath to a statement the notary knows to be untrue.

Judy Hayes

09 May 2016

I would call Department of Children and Families to investigate. People are not for sale and although she is requesting Notary services only, it is my moral obligation to protect a child.

Lisa A. Holliday

09 May 2016

I would refuse to sign if I suspected the document was illegal. That's within my rights - I don't have to absolutely know it's illegal. I believe I'm correct when I say all I have to do is suspect that it's illegal. I'm not refusing to sign because I think it's immoral but Because I think it's illegal.

Joel

09 May 2016

was surprised that Indentured Servitude in some forms are still legal according to the research that I have conducted. According to articles that I read from a Google search. A type of servitude is a non-compete agreement between an employer and and employee. So to some extent Indentured Servitude still exists. As to the legality of witnessing the signature of a person on a document that puts a minor child from a foriegn country into a bonded servitude for 10 years might be questionable. The notarization of the signature I do not believe is illegal. That is straight forward. As a Notary, we are not allowed to give legal advice; however in my continuing research I found that if the employer has an overwhelming advantage over the servant, the courts tend to void the agreement. In conclusion in this situation I would refuse to notarize the document and advise the customer to seek legal advice and let the attorney notarize the document. I believe this situation to be too "iffy" for notartization by a notary.

Jeanne

09 May 2016

I would not notarized the document them I would call the police

Elaine McKenna

09 May 2016

Answer: No! Sometimes what is legal is not moral. Placing a minor in indentured servitude is immoral. If the requester doesn't like my refusal then she can take it up with the Secretary of State.

LaVonne M Jones

09 May 2016

I would do the notarization. As long as the document is legal I have no reason not to. My personal opinion would be just that; personal.

Diana Jaramillo

09 May 2016

I will pretend I will do transaction; meanwhile I will report it to the authorities. Sometimes we forget humanities and laws for following our jobs guidelines.

Bertha Vazquez

09 May 2016

I was always told that you are ensuring the identity of the signer, regardless of what the document states. Person can state in the document that he is the king of England and married to Marilyn Monroe and lives with Elvis. If he has proper ID, that's what counts. On the other hand, if what the document states is an Illegal activity, you should keep yourself safe first, complete the notarization and report to the corresponding authorities once person(s) are gone and you are safe to do so.

Daniel Dougherty

09 May 2016

Not a snowballs chance in Haiti. And a prompt notification to authorities would immediately follow.

Valinda Hanna-Lazarus

09 May 2016

I would call the police immediately. It is despicable to believe that in this day & age people are not aware that is slavery in the most disgusting form, and the last time I checked slavery was abolished in this country. Sorry, my answer may sound harsh but as an African- American mother of an 11 year old son, my heart just went out to that child!

Liza Sibley

09 May 2016

I would make a copy of her ID, excuse myself and call 911. Human trafficking is illegal.

Elizabeth

09 May 2016

I wouldnt do it poor kid !!!

Gloria Henderson

09 May 2016

Notaries must honor all lawful and reasonable requests to notarize. In my opinion this document is not lawful nor reasonable. I would refuse.

paula

09 May 2016

Not sure what I would do. I think maybe I would have to refuse and let the next notary make that decision. Seems like child trafficking to me.

Jannell Clanton

09 May 2016

Although the document is lawful I would refuse service, as is my right for reasons being personal and moral. I would explain to them someone else may perform the notary for them, but I would have to be able to sleep at night and that is just beyond my moral compass, or capacity.

Mister J

09 May 2016

Based on the principle of "You know or suspect the transaction is false, illegal or deceptive" described in the "When To Say 'No,'" article, you should say "No."

Brittany

09 May 2016

I think what I would do is proceed with the notary. That way I would be able to obtain all of the information from the signor and turn her into the authorities. It also seems like with a notarized signature on the doc, they would have a better case against her.

Nancy Boles

09 May 2016

Although the action being performed with the document is something that I find abhorrent, if the document is in order, I would have to perform the notarization. However, and this part may not be ethical, I would have her information from her identification in my journal, and I would immediately contact the authorities.

Teresa Supinski

09 May 2016

I would not notarize. The child is 10 years old and not at age of majority to make decision(s).

Nancy Huening

09 May 2016

I would not feel comfortable notarizing such a document without verifying the legality of such a document.

Davina Law

09 May 2016

It is my understanding that purchasing a human being, no matter the age, gender, or ethnicity, is a criminal act, so therefore I would respectfully refuse to notarize such an agreement. After which, I would contact the proper authorities.

Terri Poster-Taylor

09 May 2016

I would notarize the document and make note in my journal with "additional information": name of the child, name of the person "selling" the child and any other key information that I could see on the document. I would then call Child Protective Services with this information. We don't notarize or give legal opinions on the document itself: we notarize signatures on Jurat's and Acknowledgements. But as a Public Servant, I would feel obligated to report the "transaction" and to protect the 10 year old child.

James

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize it. Yes I know we're legally bound to notarize a document if they have their ID and all that but if I refuse then what is she going to do? Take it to court and report me for it by saying, "this notary refused to notarize my black market agreement to commit a felony! Goodness he must be stopped!"? No I'd refuse to notarize then I'd call the FBI.

Nancy Huening

09 May 2016

I would not notarize the document unless verification of legality was verified.

Terri Gleaton

09 May 2016

The notarization should not be completed. In New Mexico, statute 14-12A-8 specifically states the notary is not to proceed when "the notary public knows or has good reason to believe that the notarial act or the associated transaction is unlawful”. This would be a situation in which to refer the customer to seek legal counsel, explaining that after briefly scanning over the document he/she cannot comply with the request. The customer may become irate so, as always with a difficult situation, the notary should be prepared to respond clearly and calmly.

Doris Laul

09 May 2016

I would refuse the notary. While her request for an acknowledgement is by itself legal, and as notaries we are not supposed to judge the contents of the document, this is human trafficking and I would have to listen to my conscience, and possibly call authorities. I would rather give up my commission than follow through with this notary request.

Anna Lester

09 May 2016

I would refuse to perform the notarization citing that the document is unlawful.

Brenda

09 May 2016

I would have to notarize

brenda

09 May 2016

I would think I need to notarize as its not a birth certificate or any other legal doc like that...

Wendy Brown

09 May 2016

I would call the police. Slavery is illegal in the U.S. Regardless of the "legality of the signature", it is perpetuating the exploitation of children for slavery. And people go to jail in this country for that.

Patti Guard-Younce

09 May 2016

Regardless of my personal opinion, I do believe, though I am not a lawyer, that it is still illegal for anyone to "purchase" or "own" another human being, regardless of the intent. I would study the document, make note of her information, refuse to sign and calmly ask her to leave. Then I believe I would report the incident to Child Protective Services.

Juanita Marie Little-Lyons

09 May 2016

No, no more than I would notarize a document for the purchase/sale of drugs or a sex worker. The purchase of a person is illegal in the US. To create a contract for purchase of labor it must have an "out" for the laborer, and this sounds like this particular scenario does not.

J. Develasco

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize this document as, I believe, that purchasing children and slavery are both illegal.

Pat

09 May 2016

Whether it is legal or not, my conscience would not let me perform that notarization. I do not believe it's right to indenture children at all.

No

09 May 2016

I don't care what the document is, just that the person in front of me signed it. That said, now you've got their ID information and address to forward to the police if it is illegal.

Guillermo Reyes

09 May 2016

You are right by saying, "You’ve never seen anything like this, and you’re not sure if it’s legal for someone to “purchase” an indentured servant". I have never heard of it. The first thing I would do is to call the NNA to see how I should proceed and go on their advice.

Steven J Block

09 May 2016

Although the notarization may be legal, the transaction (indentured servitude of a child) is illegal, so I would refuse to notarize woman's signature. And due to the nature of this act described in the document I would also make a copy of the document and the woman's ID and report it to law enforcement and child protective services.

veronica.aguayo@valleyoak.org

09 May 2016

I am a new notary, waiting for my stamp. I would complete the notarization and contact the authorities.

mharmeyer

09 May 2016

No. The "purchase" of any human is against the law.

Teresa Harter

09 May 2016

The situation is illegal and morally unethical. I would refuse and report to the proper authorities.

Beverly Vander Mel

09 May 2016

I would not notorize it. I feel what she is doing is unethical. If she is not happy with my response, she can try an find another notary.

Brittany

09 May 2016

I think what I would do is proceed with the notary. That way I would be able to obtain all of the information from the signor and turn her into the authorities. It also seems like with a notarized signature on the doc, they would have a better case against her.

Leann

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize this document. The fact that it is handwritten would be suspect to me especially dealing with a child who is underage, and has no say. I would immediately call the child protective services, and police, and let them deal with it. I wouldn't let my emotions show; other than telling her I suspect that the form is illegal and that if she wanted to have a notarization she would need to fill in a legal document which I would think didn't exist.

Maurice Goldberg

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize the letter #1 reason would be that I don't think it is legal to buy a person # 2 reason is on a moral basis

Tamara Stoebe

09 May 2016

I think this falls under the same parameters as Elder Abuse. If we suspect a senior citizen is being taken advantage of we are obligated to report the abuse. If this was placed before me to notarize, I would refuse on the basis that it is my understanding that this agreement is illegal (I cannot say its immoral - seperation of church & state), but I do not feel that this is a legally binding agreement, and that I cannot legally notarize an illegal document. If they are upset - I'd give them the number of the Secretary of State and they can take it up with them, then I'd refer them to the local store front notary. I would then report it to DCFS and have a conversation with my attorney to discuss my options.

S Kern

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize as I can only believe that this is illegal in the United States. I would also report to the appropriate authorities as it's illegal.

Charlene Vejr

09 May 2016

Absolutely refuse. Slavery is prohibited in the United States, we have very strong laws against slavery, and this is human trafficking. The response is not based on bias or social responsibility. It's purely unlawful.

nparker

09 May 2016

The notarization should be refused, as there is no requirement to perform a notarization on an illegal transaction, in fact the opposite is true. This transaction is certainly illegal; in no state can a child be sold into service. Moreover, I would copy the documentation and notify the police and Child Protective Services. Although notaries are not mandatory reporters, it is a moral obligation to protect a child's welfare.

Charisse

09 May 2016

I would refuse! I would have to make some phone calls and by the time, I get back to her she would be gone.

Angela Cook

09 May 2016

Indentured servitude is simply a fancy word for slavery and is illegal in the USA. Additionally, the person being sold into indentured servitude in this case is a minor which makes it child abuse. I would record the signer's information in my journal along with details of the document, then decline to notarize as I would have no part in such a transaction, then notify authorities immediately. Contrary to what some others have said, when child or elder abuse is clearly evident, our opinion is not just our opinion and we have an obligation to report the situation even if we decide to proceed with a notarization.

Angela Cook

09 May 2016

Indentured servitude is simply a fancy word for slavery and is illegal in the USA. Additionally, the person being sold into indentured servitude in this case is a minor which makes it child abuse. I would record the signer's information in my journal along with details of the document, then decline to notarize as I would have no part in such a transaction, then notify authorities immediately. Contrary to what some others have said, when child or elder abuse is clearly evident, our opinion is not just our opinion and we have an obligation to report the situation even if we decide to proceed with a notarization.

Angela Cook

09 May 2016

Indentured servitude is simply a fancy word for slavery and is illegal in the USA. Additionally, the person being sold into indentured servitude in this case is a minor which makes it child abuse. I would record the signer's information in my journal along with details of the document, then decline to notarize as I would have no part in such a transaction, then notify authorities immediately. Contrary to what some others have said, when child or elder abuse is clearly evident, our opinion is not just our opinion and we have an obligation to report the situation even if we decide to proceed with a notarization.

Lil

09 May 2016

I would refuse. It is an illegal document.

Rodger Ward

09 May 2016

I would treat the client respectfully regardless of my personal feelings about the document's contents. I would then follow the eight step process tha I always use. First, complete my notarial journal, including signature and thumbprint. Next I would review the document. Based on my conclusion that indentured servitude is not legal, I would excuse myself for a moment, make a copy, and then return to politely refuse the motorization. I would subsequently report this information to applicable authorities.

Rosalind D Moore

09 May 2016

First, I find the whole thing offensive. Second, there is no reason why we should not notarize the document. The acknowledgement is complete with no empty spaces. We are not approving the document; we are only verifying the identity and signature of the person requesting the notarization. I would, however, notify the police immediately and give them all the information furnished by the signer.

Dawn D

09 May 2016

According to The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility, Guiding Principle IV: THE NOTARY SHALL NOT EXECUTE A FALSE OR INCOMPLETE CERTIFICATE, NOR BE INVOLVED WITH ANY DOCUMENT OR TRANSACTION THAT THE NOTARY BELIEVES IS FALSE, DECEPTIVE OR FRAUDULENT. So, in other words...NO. Don't do the notarization.

ericcooper1956@gmail.com

09 May 2016

In my opinion, It is legal to notarize the signature but you should immediately turn her in to the proper authorities..

barleyrose@gmail.com

09 May 2016

This is Human Trafficking, it is illegal. I would stall the signer and call the local sherriff's emergency number while signer was there. Also, the Human Trafficking Hotline

Hugh

09 May 2016

I don't see how I could refuse the acknowledgement request in Washington, but would collect as much identifying and background information as possible as part of a report to the authorities.

Stan Borup

09 May 2016

I will do the notary since all I'm doing is verifying the signer of the unethical document. Once I have her name, I can drop a call to the Haitian consulate and inform them since I don't have an attorney / client agreement.

Joannie

09 May 2016

Notarized or not, the document is unlawful and unenforceable. Except, what is the kid going to do about it? However, such a notary would be obligated to report the potential crime to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, local police if they don't know how to contact the FBI. Of course, if you're as sneaky as I. Tell the signer that you keep electronic journal and make a copy of the document and her ID to provide to law enforcement. You could take a picture of the document and ID if yo don't have a scanner. The signer would be looking at a lot of free housing courtesy of the Feds.

Angela Cook

09 May 2016

Indentured servitude is simply a fancy word for slavery and is illegal in the USA. Additionally, the person being sold into indentured servitude in this case is a minor which makes it child abuse. I would record the signer's information in my journal along with details of the document, then decline to notarize as I would have no part in such a transaction, then notify authorities immediately. Contrary to what some others have said, when child or elder abuse is clearly evident, our opinion is not just our opinion and we have an obligation to report the situation even if we decide to proceed with a notarization.

Josh Smith

09 May 2016

I would complete the notary, and make a copy of the letter so that I have all the evidence the police need to convict this person of human trafficking. WIthout said proof the person could simply deny it, or worse yet go to an unscrupulous notary and get this completed. Think about the big picture on this, by completeing the notary you have all the evidence needed to have this person prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The police are going to confiscate the notary letter as evidence anyways, AND you saved a child.

Mike Anderson

09 May 2016

I would refuse to Notarize the document. I would write her information down and repot the suspicious transaction to child protection services

Janis Bottorff

09 May 2016

My first reaction would be no, but this is definitely one I would call the NNA Notary Hotline on!

Jeanne Yomine

09 May 2016

Never! Pretty sure there are multiple laws both in the states individually and/or federal that would make a notary complicit in a crime. The National Notary Association publishes a book entitled, "Sorry, No Can Do." Every notary should have a copy!

Lorraine Pereverziev

09 May 2016

While indentured servitude of a minor is illegal in the United States, I would contemplate doing the notarization by first obtaining all the necessary identification from the signer along with the thumbprint. In so doing, I am obtaining enough information to report to the authorities the situation I have been confronted with. Upon having the signer sign my journal, I would then scan the document and determining that it was an illegal act that was being contracted for, I would refuse the notarization.

Howard Lovely, Jr.

09 May 2016

Hi,... As a notary I am charged with identifying that the person(s) appearing before me are signing the document. I will accomplish this by the person(s) presenting satisfactory evidence that they are who they say they are,..period. As a notary,...I am not responsible for the contents of the document,...nor am I notarizing the contents of the document as being accurate / legal. In this case presented: Do it by the book- 1. I have a moral obligation to attempt to help a minor / child that I personally believe may be in danger at worse,... or at the very least participating in this transaction under duress. 2. How many signatures are required on the document..? Just the one whom is [personally appearing] before me or,... are there multiple signatures..? If there are multiple signature required on the document and only one person is [appearing before me],...I could refuse to stamp the document at that time,...and request that [all individuals personally appear] before me at a later date,...with valid identification and sign then. This action will allow me to visual determine if any of the individuals are under duress,...we / I already assume the child will appear to be under pressure to sign even if he/she does have identification to satisfy me as notary. 3. If all parties involved choose to appear before me with satisfactory Identification,...in this case I will request three forms of ID(Pass port, State Issued Driver License or ID card & Social Security Card),.... per person. Remember,...I can request as much Identification as I deem necessary to satisfy myself as notary. If all parties can't produce what I request as forms of Identification on multiple layers,...then I can legally refuse to notarize the document on the basis of,... lack of satisfactory Identification while personally appearing before me. If all parties somehow produce my requested satisfactory Identification in [three forms],...all of which,... I will record in my journal and photo record digitally,...I will get thumb print, signatures,...make notations about the nature of the document, digitally record the document and stamp-off as notary. 4. Now,....at this time all of you are probably thinking,...what a foolish notary,....not so fast yall,...I now have all necessary documentation, to march right over to the [only Authority] that I can legally surrender personal private notary entries from my journal and all other evidence,...wait for it,.............wait for it,.............The Secretary Of State Office. This is how I would handle what I personally believe to be morally wrong,.... considering that my Granddaddy that I grew-up with on my Mother's side,...was the son of an African slave. Under these circumstances,...I will risk loosing my ability to be a notary,... by using my status as notary to help a child in a situation,... as has been presented. Howard Lovely, Jr. Notary Colorado, USA

William F Klebesadel

09 May 2016

I am not a lawyer. By refusing to notarize, because I assumed the act is against the law, would I be practicing law and therefor subject to a fine?

Eve Dixon

09 May 2016

I would record her information in my book first then look at the document again then let her know that is not a document I can notarize. I would then take the information to the local police department for further instructions.

Priscilla Brown

09 May 2016

I must say that this would go against my grain because of the moral issue. But as a Notary Public I would have to check out the issue and be sure this was unlawful. I took an oath to support the constitution of the United States. Therefore, whether I believe in it or not is not the issue; the issue is if it is lawful.

Valerie

09 May 2016

I suspect it to be an illegal transaction and would decline notarizing. Also, according to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, it is illegal to extend servitude, as well as involuntary servitude.

JoAnn

09 May 2016

An indentured servant is equal to a slave. Slavery was abolished in the US in 1956. This act is neither legal nor ethical and I would not put my seal on it.

Robert R McEvilly

09 May 2016

I would absolutely refuse to notarize this document - or anything else similar to this type of illegal activity.

Robert R McEvilly

09 May 2016

I would refuse to notarize this document - or anything similar to this.

Beverly Stokke

09 May 2016

While the entire scenario is no less than sickening to me, I think I would go thru with the notarization, only to be certain to get her ID info and fingerprint. However, I would "forget" to seal the document or some other "oops" so that it would not be a complete signing. Then, I would call the authorizes IMMEDIATELY and report every bit of it to them.

Maria Alanis

09 May 2016

I would perform the notarization so that I can get all identity information, signature and thumbprint in my journal, then I would inform the police and provide the proof.

Daisy

09 May 2016

Child slavery is illegal in the United State. This is a 10 year old child. Is the child in the U.S legally? probably not. This issue could lead to serious legal matter. I would not sign and would report the matter to the proper authority.

Debra Manning

10 May 2016

It may be legal but I would feel so uncomfortable notarizing this act.

Karen

10 May 2016

Legal or not I would refuse. No one should be a slave of any kind.

Angel Young

10 May 2016

In most states a notary should decline the act if they know or suspect that the transaction is false, illegal or deceptive. In this case, the act is known to be illegal and therefore I would decline.

Jhujar Singh

10 May 2016

I am supposed to casually scan the document for blank spaces and have no right to read it. Being unaware about its contents I will go ahead to notarize it. However, if it came to my notice somehow that doc's text display some illegality I shall politely decline.

Renee

10 May 2016

Is this human trafficking? I believe it is and I would report this to the police immediately.

Sharon Riley

10 May 2016

I would according to my notarial standards, notarize the document as an acknowledgement that, that person is who she say she is. As a Notary Public, we are not supposed to read the document and pass judgment on the content and decide whether the document is legal or not. I believe that contacting the authorities would also be a violation of our duty.

BJ Waters

10 May 2016

Never. I would tell her it was against my religious and moral principals and she should take a hike.

Judikidd@live.com

10 May 2016

If her ID was legal, I would notarize the document. As defined by the State of Washington, a notary public required to be impartial and nonjudicial. You'd better believe I would subject her ID to the toughest scrutiny at my command... but if it passed, I would notarize.

Leticia A. Valdivia

10 May 2016

I would not notarize such document. The verifying of documents may be legal, but not the purchase of a child.

BJ Waters

10 May 2016

Never. I would tell her it was against my religious and moral principals and she should take a hike.

Howard Lovely, Jr.

10 May 2016

Hi,... In my comment yesterday,...I forgot to mention that this hand-written contract / document will need to have attached to it a [Notarial Certificate of Acknowledgement] in addition to all the proof of identification. The case study scenario also indicated that there are [no blank spaces] on the hand-written contract / document document,....thus begs the question are there multiple signatures (Buyer, Seller, Servant) that are already on the document,...yet,...according to this scenario,....only the "Buyer" is personally appearing before me. Each person(Buyer, Seller, Servant) that has [already signed] the hand-written contract / document has to personally appear before me. Howard Lovely, Jr. Notary Colorado, USA

Bryan H

10 May 2016

If I suspect anything extraordinary on a particular document, I will not comment on the legality unless I am sworn and hired to do so.

Josh Smith

10 May 2016

I must say I am shocked by some of the Notary answers that they would just complete their notary duty. My Moral duty is much higher than my notarial duty. I would complete the notary, that way it proves to the court that this person was completely willing to proceed with this matter, IE they didnt try and back out at the last moment change their mind etc. I would ensure I made a copy of the letter, as well as getting a copy of their photo ID and thumbprint. You have a serious violation of the law involving potential child trafficking. In my view it is important to ensure you complete the notary I agree with others on intentionally making a mistake so its not valid, but more importantly keeping a copy of the document, so the person cannot say you misunderstood, or that you are lying. I would then immediatley contact the police and hand over the evidence showing this person has every intention of obtaining this service. If I lose my notary license over this issue then so be it, I can live with myself knowing I did the right thing.

faicole710@bellsouth.net

10 May 2016

Since slavery is illegal, I would consider notarizing her document akin to "aiding and abetting". No way would I perform this notarial act. It would take all of my self control to remain civil After the person departed, I would report her to the police.

L. E. Casey

10 May 2016

First, the document appears to be an agreement; an agreement would require that two people sign the document and the scenario does not mention a second affiant. Second, it is not the notary's responsibility to make a decision about the legality of the document. As distasteful as it would be, I would have no choice but to attach an acknowledgment for the affiant's signature only, comfortable in the knowledge that the agreement could not be legally binding without the second affiant's notarized signature.

Rick Arnold

10 May 2016

I would think that the boys age would come into play and without the boy being presented or having a family member to represent him I would have to see if is really legal to own a 10 year boy, it maters not where he is from because now he is in the U.S.A.

Adela

10 May 2016

I would notarized the document. That is the best way to capture all of the information necessary to provide to law enforcement. It is also better evidence to prosecute them. You have to remember that by notarizing a document you are confirming the identity of the signer, not legalizing what they are trying to do. It's the best way to get as much information as you possibly can to save the child.

Lkc

11 May 2016

I appreciate receiving these newsletters, however---when you pose a question in the newsletter it would be greatly appreciated if you would follow your article WITH AN ANSWER as well. There was a lot of discussion about this, but no answer as to the legality of this topic--PLEASE PROVIDE AN ANSWER.

National Notary Association

11 May 2016

Hello. As mentioned in the article, we'll be posting the recommended answer to this "What Would You Do?" question in an article next week.

Jean Ladd

11 May 2016

Sorry! But I would NOT notarize for her. I would politely explain why and send her to an attorney. It may be legal for me to notarize her signature, but it would go against my beliefs.

betty

11 May 2016

JUST because you CAN do something, does not mean that you should. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke The SOMETHING that you can do as a Notary Public is to discern requests and refuse service for immorality.

Stacy

11 May 2016

I would scan the document (info seen), ask for her ID, copy the ID and the document the re-read the document in-front of her and tell her I cannot at this time notarize the paper. After she has left, call the state law enforcement with information of potential crime in hand.

nicole c

11 May 2016

Elaine Wright Harris is correct and shame on anyone who thinks that we are required to perform what should be knowingly illegal acts. We must also uphold the Constitution of the US and we should all know that indentured servitude is illegal under the 13th Amendment. We have an obligation to refuse service if the document concerns a facially illegal subject, regardless of the propriety of the document itself. Unless, you should want to testify in Court or be held personally responsible as a defendant. The same could not be said if you refuse and are later proven incorrect. And calling CPS, or even DHS, to protect a mythical foreign child is probably not your best bet. I would call either the police or the Justice Department--the signer is attempting to violate both US federal law and international protections against human trafficking--or the anti-trafficking hotline as thoughtfully provided above.

Chuck

11 May 2016

You are obligated as a notary to notarize a signer's signature - no more, no less. Its none of the notary's business as to what the content of the document is.... in fact, it doesn't even have to be written in a language that you understand. All you're doing as a notary is to scan for blanks, etc, and verify that the signer is who s/he says s/he is.

Chuck

11 May 2016

In addition to my answer earlier.... it appears many notaries here are trying to take the law into their own hands. You're all assuming that said document is governed by U.S. law. How do you know what country this exchange or purchase is to take place... and whether that country's law's make this a legal transaction? I believe that those who try to take the law into their own hands should resign their notary commissions and do something else - something where your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs don't influence your jobs.

carletta wilson

11 May 2016

First you can not enter into a contract for something that is against the law. So the contract is not a illegal contract. I may be able to notarize her signature but human trafficking is against that law and I would refuse the service and call the police.

Victoria Dimitroff

12 May 2016

The first thing that comes to mind is that this could not be legal. It is believed that this could be a case of human trafficking that is in the news so much in our world today. Another point is it just doesn't seem morally correct. For these two reasons alone the notarization would be refused.

Geraldine Pierre-Fleuriomond

14 May 2016

I would copy her ID, ask her for any other ID's or updated addresses and excuse myself to contact a law enforcement agency. This is illegal and immoral and goes against the code we took to become a notary in any State. Secondly, I am a Haitian-American and a mother of a 10 year old. I would have a really hard time keeping my composure!

Stacy

16 May 2016

For one thing Chuck, if a "Joe Smith-person" went to a pharmacy and said I need to buy enough of "this" certain drug because I'm going to kill this "person", don't you think it would be up to the pharmacy staff to alert local law enforcement of a potential homicide? I see this notary situation as the same, and it is not "taking the law into you own hands", it's alerting the law. BIG difference.

nicole

16 May 2016

Chuck, oh how wrong you are and those of your ilk. It has nothing to do with my moral or social judgments. It actually comes from personal experience--how many notaries do you know that have been investigated or had to participate in criminal proceedings as witnesses PRECISELY because they executed their duties without thought of criminal prosecution, even knowing the underlying transaction was suspect? Have fun explaining that to the FBI or your local DA, they won't care about your impartiality. We all have the duty as citizens to not knowingly aid and abet the commission of crimes, particularly those that are abhorrent to the Constitution. The notarial act was done on US soil and executed by a US notary under the authority vested by an US state. On the other hand, if you refuse, do you really think the Notary Police are going to show up and arrest you? Do you know of a single circumstance where a person filed a successful civil suit against a notary for refusing to notarize a contract with an illegal or void subject? NOPE. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. And please, by all means, call the Secretary of (my) State and complain that I refused you service because you were attempting to solicit a crime. = Hilarious. Taking the law into my own hands? I'm assuming Chuck does not work for attorneys because otherwise he would have heard lifetimes-earful of your duty to protect the license of your supervisor, even against creating the mere appearance of impropriety. I am not a trained monkey executing acknowledgments in a legal vacuum; you appear to believe that notaries are nothing more than human captchas with fancy stamps. (Besides the fact that there is nothing wrong with a conscientious refusal. As a Native person, I see the historical consequences of willful ignorance in this particular area every day and my stamp can never be more important than the suffering of my fellow humans. A conscience simply needs no justification or apology.)

Cheryl Kaster

24 May 2016

I think this is human trafficking and definitely illegal. I would not only refuse I would report her to the authorities.

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