“What keeps me going?” one experienced California notary says in reply to my question. “I like to notarize documents for people who really benefit from what I do and appreciate it. I also learn a lot from people. In this case, for an ex-prisoner falsely accused, I had an opportunity to do all of the above. Wow!”
Innocent — but, in jail for 20 years
“I was asked to notarize documents so a man could get a large settlement from the city [unnamed]. He had been in jail for 20 years—and he was innocent! He had been accused of murder and was finally acquitted because of DNA evidence. When DNA evidence came to the fore, it was a real blessing for people just like this. Apparently a totally different man’s DNA was found on the victim’s clothing, etc., and the person I did the notarization for was granted a settlement of over a million dollars,” our California notary exclaims.
“But this man was a wreck; he was in his 40’s, but you could tell he had been deeply changed. He looked more like 60. He was happy about the settlement, but he had been through a lot in prison. You know, most people don’t think about this kind of thing at all, but conditions in prison are absolutely horrible, and there is not a lot of personal safety. This man looked like the last guy in the world who would commit murder; he was soft spoken, and I could tell he had been abused or worse in prison. His teeth were also in terrible condition, and he walked with a limp. I think he had to use a good portion of his money for medical care. But he also gave money to his daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in many years. In general, I wonder if he reconnected with his family. Of course, the money and the publicity probably helped,” smiles our notary.
She recalls, “I got to see that sometimes justice is done. It made me feel good to be part of the system somehow, and made me less cynical. When I see the seal of the state of California, and pass through that man’s city, I always think of him. It cost the city a lot, but it is good to know that innocent people can come home again and try for a new start. Notarizing this man’s documents was in many ways the highlight of my career as a California notary.”
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