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October 13, 2016

Notarization done at jail for vehicle release rejected at the Police station because Notary #1 used the wrong ack!

How is this possible? How can you use a wrong Acknowledgment? I heard this story from a Notary Public in some other state. But, what was wrong with the Acknowledgment? Was it from the wrong state? Was it filled out improperly? Or was the Acknowledgment labeled for a different document? I guess the Police don’t miss anything. In any case, if you are notarizing for a document that is to be submitted to a government authority, don’t miss anything, and make sure your stamp impression is clear as a bell.

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When to ask for ID over the phone & fees at the door
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April 8, 2011

Notarizing a kidnapper

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 6:50 am

Notarizing a potential kidnapper

I had no evidence either way, I was just doing my job.  It was a dark night in Rosemead, CA, when I had just finished notarizing a grant deed for some old customers of mine when the phone rang. It was a company that I enjoyed working for that I hadn’t heard from for a while. They had a notarization for me in the neighboring city of Monterey Park. That is usually a safe place to be at night. What they didn’t tell me was that the client was a suspected kidnapper. I guess the company company who dispatched this job to me doesn’t include “Are you a kidnapper” on the list of questions they ask clients. I tried to call the location before I went there, but the phone number was incorrect. It was close, so I wasn’t too concerned. It was only ten minutes away, and practically on my way home. When I got to the venue, it was a run down motel with only six units. I was to go to unit #5. I knocked on the door, and a very nervous and agitated man in his 30’s answered the door. He seemed very bony, like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. His eyes were wild and deep set, and he was very frenetic. As I looked around the smoke filled room I noticed that there were seven people in the two room suite which included a kitchenette. Two elderly ladies were in a bed. I asked him who he needed to have notarized. He said he needed a power of attorney from his mom. His mother only had a thirty year old Mexican passport. Nobody else in the room had ID to be a credible witness except for the man I was working with who was the beneficiary. I told him that I couldn’t legally notarize his mother under those circumstances. Then, he pleaded with me and offered me lots of cash which he had laying on the table next to his overflowing ashtray, half empty beer bottles, and packs of cigarettes. Then he told me about the family feud he was in and how he was accused of kidnapping his mother. At that point, I started getting nervous. I told him that he should consult a lawyer. He said he was running out of cash and couldn’t afford to see a lawyer. They seemed like they were on the run. I told him I couldn’t legally help him. He continued to plead looking very desperate and distraught. Finally I had to apologize and leave.

This was one of the spookiest notary calls I have ever gone out on.  I just wonder what their real situation was, and if they were really running for the law.  There is no way to know. You can’t question someone in that condition or they might lose their cool. I guess they were probably illegal judging from the lack of proper identification. Thank god nothing happened.

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April 3, 2011

Notarizing an arsonist who blew his fingers off

It was just another afternoon, when I got a call for a notary job from an attorney in downtown Los Angeles. I was to meet the attorney at “Twin Towers” which is our most famous local jail to do the job. When I arrived, he was there on time in the waiting room. The room was filled with Los Angeles’ finest looking women, who apparently won’t date you unless you are a criminal. We had to fill out a small form and give it to the lobby guard. We then went through security and I took out all of the contents of my pockets: cell phone, wallet, coins, jacket, bag, belt, shoes, etc. The guards and parking attendants all knew me because I was a regular. They always went through my bag and asked about all of my various stamps, staplers, staples ( which are considered to be deadly weapons in a prison ), etc. They took my stapler apart to inspect its interior. Luckily I wasn’t strip searched. The guards often missed the refill staples in my which could be dangerous if they got in the wrong hands. Staples can be used to pick locks, and can even be a deadly weapon. Even a small piece of paper can be made into an instrument of death by jailbirds — so I hear.

The hallway of doom
Then, after security, it was time to traverse the hallway of doom. Each step down that lifeless  foreboding hallway had an echo and the distant sounds of metal doors clanking shut pervaded this ominous stretch of endless corridor. It twisted and turned at forty-five degree angles for hundreds of feet. The walls were made of cement bricks and there is always a stark and desolate feeling. For those of you who have never done a jail job before, there is always an ominous long hallway. Every jail has one, or at least should have one just to set the mood. If you go often enough, you will no longer notice the feeling of dread, apprehension, or the echo that each footstep makes on your seemingly endless journey to the elevator. Think of what it feels like to go down that hallway all alone on your first visit!

The elevator
Then, after what seemed like an eternity, we finally got to the elevator. We used the intercom to get permission to visit the fifth floor. We waited for what seemed to the lawyer to be like an attorney-ty. I mean, an eternity. We finally got to the fifth floor. We had to ask the guard to get Gary so we could notarize his signature.

Meeting the inmate
I noticed that Gary had been in an accident. His face was cut up and he was missing parts of his fingers. He had a hobby of making explosives and he had accidentally blown up his apartment and lost one eye, and several fingertips in the process. Terrifying!  But, he was a very gentle soul, kind at heart. He had only nice things to say about the guards. Not surprisingly, I had a bit of trouble getting the required thumbprint. I took a fingerprint of an index finger instead of a thumbprint and made a notation in my journal of which finger on what hand I used.  Then we notarized one or two documents.  We left after that.  They attorney had Gary’s identification.

I went to see the same inmate two months later with the same attorney. The inmate was looking much better. The cuts and scratches were mostly healed. Unfortunately, his fingers hadn’t grown back.

Meeting the jurors by coincidence.
The real irony took place eight months later when I went to notarize two Asian-American residents of West Hollywood. I thought I was just going for a regular notary job. They said they needed documents notarized regarding a court case. They said the case was about a guy who blew up his apartment. I said, “His name wouldn’t happen to be Gary?”.

Their jaws dropped.

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December 10, 2010

Meeting Clients at a Jail

Meeting at jail

I have done many jail notaries, and one of the biggest challenges is meeting the client. The inmate is never the client. They are locked up and don’t have phone access. The signer’s girlfriend, attorney, or mother is generally the client. The problem is that when doing a prison notary job, you deal with the criminal class, they are not always so reliable. Meeting someone at a jail is not so easy. Some clients just don’t show up which is why you should not get in your car to go to the jail until you have received a confirmation call.

If the client doesn’t have a cell phone, I would strongly consider not going to the job, since you won’t be able to reach them if you need to. Of the clients that do show up, finding them is not so easy. One client wanted to meet me at the door to the jail. He always goes in the back, and I always go in the front. I waited for an hour at the front door and he waited near the back door to the waiting room. If you are going to meet at a door, you better specify the door. There is the door to the jail near the street, the door to the waiting room, side doors, and many other doors. Its even possible to be at the wrong jail. There are three jails in Los Angeles within two minutes walking of each other. Maybe its better to meet at Denny’s.

I met many individuals at the parking lot where the Ethiopian attendant was. It was easy. It was on a particular intersection, and nobody else was there — except the Ethiopian guys who work there and all were on a first name basis with me. Another solution was to meet at the cash register at Dennies. There is only one register, so that makes it easy.

The main thing to remember
You need to remember that  it’s not where you meet, its how you identify exactly where you are meeting. This is especially true if you go to a new location that you are not familiar with. Jails are complicated. There is one place to park, and you have to find the correct entrance, and then know which hallway to go down.

The next problem is waiting.
You might be at the jail all day. You could have a lock down, an inmate who was moved to a different cell, moved to a different jail, or who was not identified correctly. The guards might just be slow that day. Anything is possible. If you don’t agree ahead of time how much you charge for excess waiting, you might wait all day without pay.

Identification is another problem.
The inmate’s bracelet is not an acceptable notary ID. Make sure the client who meets you has a current ID that is acceptable in your state, or else it might be a very short notarization. I have used credible witnesses many times in jails too, but in California we need two of them, so make sure you have the right amount of witnesses.

Travel fee up front?
Since there are so many difficulties with jails and jail signings, you might get the travel portion of your fee up front. Then, if there is a problem getting to the signer, or identifying them, you get paid for your trouble instead of having a total loss. You should charge a generous amount for jail signings, because you will get stiffed 10-25% of the time, so be prepared for the realities of life.

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November 3, 2010

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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A typical botched jail job: fees at the door misunderstood
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Do criminals deserve to be notarized?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2586

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