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July 10, 2019

When you say I DO – it’s not what you think

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , — admin @ 3:05 am

First the title, the entry has nothing to do with a marriage ceremony. Perhaps my details delve into a situation with greater risk. At the wedding the question is “do you take ,,,,,”. My question is (with some variations) – Do you swear or affirm that these are your signatures, that you read and understood these documents; and that the statements contained are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief.

I’m waiting for a yes, or I do. Very rarely (actually only once in 10+ years) do I receive a NO. But, sometimes I get a “yeah” or “whatever” or “if you say so” – how colorful. I ask the affiant if they would give the same reply in a courtroom in front of a Judge. Anger them and they have the full power to “contempt of court” you and off you go to the “window bars motel” for a few days. I don’t have that lofty power so all I can do is ask the flippant affiant for a simple yes or no.

It still amazes me that some take “the oath” lightly. They don’t understand that a notarized document is a serious matter. I ask “do you know what perjury is?” Sure, is the common answer, “it’s when you lie in court”. Are you aware that a falsehood in a sworn statement – for example the one you just signed, bears the same crime – perjury? Huuuh, you ain’t a judge. Right you are, but I am an officer of the New York State Department of State, sworn and holding a commission.

You’re serious. Yes I am and so is signing a document and swearing before a notary public. With me the oath refers to the written word; in court it’s the spoken word. That is the only difference.

Well, there is one little exception to the above paragraph. That’s when I attend a deposition to swear in a witness. Do you swear that the testimony you are about….. I do lots of those and have a script giving “for the record” covering: time, place, names, my commission number and current expiration date, etc. OK, enough rambling, time for the shocking perception of what I do.

It seems that most people don’t have a clue what notarization means. Just a few of the comments I have received: doesn’t your stamp make the document accurate? Your stamp just means that I signed it, it can contain a pack of lies; how would you know? My lawyer sent it to me, I never read what the attorney sends, and does it matter? Can this be used against me?

Folks, a properly notarized document can “usually” be admitted into evidence in a court of law – exactly as if you had appeared and given the testimony contained in the document. It IS serious, don’t take it lightly. Let me phrase it slightly differently: notaries are considered as being “officers of the court” exactly the same as the bailiff that swears you in on the witness stand.

I said it before and will repeat it again: Do you swear or affirm that these are your signatures, that you read and understood these documents; and that the statements contained are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief. “Fish” stories with buddies are one thing, often lies to be sure. But, have that fish story notarized, tip: you better have that fish on your wall!

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