Credible Witness Discussions on the Forum
Here are some excerpts for discussions about credible witnesses on our forum. Please remember that many states require the signature of a credible witness in your journal and that roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses to identify a signer. Its a great idea to also record the identification information on credible witnesses as well as getting a phone number recorded just in case. Don’t forget to administer your oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear that the person in front of them is Jimmy Doe! These commentaries are taken from a forum post. Please feel free to scroll to the bottom and click on the link to see the original post.
Use of CW’s when ID and Document have different names
It has been suggested that credible witnesses would be an appropriate method to establish the idenity of a signer when the docs had the name printed as James Doe, and they had to be signed that way, and the drivers license the borrower presented had the name Jimmy Doe. My take on this is that credible witnesses could NOT be used but that reasonable reliance on the drivers license photo, description and signature match would allow me to notarize the signature as James Doe. Am I wrong here? I’m in California.
Deborah Bond Said:
I have had this exact situation previously. I was lucky. Docs as James, ID as JIMMY. I asked for additional id and was handed Passport, Social and birth certificate and was shocked to find Passport said Jimmy, Social James and Birth James…Hence I had plenty of info stating Jimmy was James.
I did not get copies of all this but called my contact LO and advised of name issue and that LEGALLY his name was JAMES but 1/2 ID said Jimmy and they wanted copy of the DL…which had the wrong name. Per the LO his ID Affidavit showed both names when we were done and on the copy of the drivers lic we had him state that is is known as Jimmy and had him sign as James…
Now if he had not the additional id’s I would have had to adjourn because in Massachusetts CW are not a viable option. CW needs to be known to both the NOTARY (highly unlikely) and the person being id’d. The chance of that is slim. I liken it to asking my neighbor Bob (who I know) to ID another neighbor Chris who I know but has no ID. Chance is unlikely that would EVER happen.
Joe Ewing Said:
You are correct Larry but Jimmy goes on the Acknowledgment. The AKA statement that the signer signs under oath would have him signing as Jimmy and James. Credible witnesses when told that they must swear under penalty of purgery (a felony) punishable by 2-4 years in prison that their neighbor goes by a nickname will generally refuse to cooperate and rightly so.
I have used credible identifying witnesses on many occasions. When the signer has an expired ID or no ID at all a credible witness is necessary to establish the current identity of the signer without satisfactory ID.
* Missuse of credible witnesses by Notary Signing Agents
The credible witness codes were NOT created to determine the correct spelling, the presence of a middle name, whether the signer is a junior or a nick name is the real name. When a signer has a current acceptable ID that shows a slightly different spelling of the signers name that is printed on a set of loan docs, it is not appropriate to call two neighbors into a notarization to swear (a felony) not to someones identity but that the signer is actually a junior or that Joe is actually Joseph. That act by the notary in itself is inapproriate.
You (NOTARY) are looking at a picture, a description and a signature. It is the Notarys duty to make a resonable determination as to the identity of the signer based on that current satisfactory ID presented to him. If the notary is unable to do that then the notary should resign his commission.
Joe, I’m concerned that you seem to be indicating that there is somehow some discretion by the notary on whether to notarize. I prefer to rely on what is more black or white. The ID is going to be what the ID is….I would never feel comfortable with a name that is even partially different. Although I can’t quote exact statute, I seem to recall that credible witnesses are not to be used for “convenience of the signer” for example: If the signer left his ID across town….. Any thoughts on this?
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Jail Notary Jobs from A to Z
Have you ever done a jail notary?
Have you ever visited a Jail? Would you be afraid to go to one?
In reality, a jail is a very place place to visit. There are guards everywhere, and the bad guys are behind bars. Notaries make a pretty penny notarizing at jails, in fact some make so much it should be criminal to charge that much! You can charge a lot higher travel fee going to a jail because its a lot more trouble than a regular signing, and few notaries are willing to go. There is also more to know. Jail signings are usually the result of physical or online yellow page advertising, not directories that cater to loan signings ( such as ours ).
Who hires you to do a jail signing?
If you are called to do a Jail signing, it is never the inmate who calls you, but their girlfriend, family member, or attorney. The inmates don’t want to blow their (1) phone call calling a notary – and I don’t blame them. You need to arrange a time and meeting point near the jail where you are sure to be able to spot each other – at the same place at the same time. Its easy to get lost at a jail.
Idenfication for jail-birds
When you get the call, ask them if they have identification for the signer, and if they do, then have them read it to you – including the expiration date, before you book an appointment. If they don’t have ID, don’t use the jail bracelet wristband, thats not acceptable by notary standards. You might be able to use credible witnesses if you can get two of them who have ID that is current – if credible witnesses are allowed in your state. If you can’t get identification, you might be able to do a Jurat which doesn’t require identification in most states. However, California now requires ID for Jurats as well. Unfortunately, most documents such as a power of attorney or grant deed are normally done with an acknowlegment, not a jurat. But, you can attach a Jurat form and hope for the best. A recorded document might not be accepted for recording if its not done with the proper wording, but you never know.
Where do you meet your client for a jail signing?
You have to arrange to meet a stranger at the jail at a certain time. Jails are large confusing places, so it might be better to meet at a well marked street corner. If you meet in a jail, you might not know which part of the jail to meet. Waiting room? Hall to the waiting room? Front dest? Out side the bront door? IN the parking lot? Its easy for two people to be at opposite ends of the same facility or get lost. Make sure the person meeting you has a cell phone and make sure you confirm with them, otherwise you might be making a trip for nothing. Jail notaries are not for the elite of society and blowing off a notary would not ruffle the conscience of most of your potential clients for this type of job.
Logistics at the jail.
Once you are actually at the jail, you meet the client, and then fill out forms with the guards to be granted permission to enter. Make sure you know what cell the inmate is in and that they haven’t been moved. Be prepared to wait – jails have a very different sense of time from the way a busy notaries sees time. Follow the instructions for where to go, and then find a guard to bring the inmate to you once you are there. You will have to pass your journal and forms through slits with help of the guard.
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