An attorney raised an interesting question today. She pointed out that Governor Romney’s Executive Order of last year regarding the duties and responsibilities of notaries included a section (5g) that states “A notary shall certify a copy by using substantially the following form: ‘On this 25th day of January 2005, I certify that the preceding document is a true, exact, complete, and unaltered copy made by me of the Affidavit of John Doe, presented to me by John Doe.’ Signature and seal of notary.” The question was: does the preceding section of the Notary Order allow copies of documents so certified to be recorded at the registry of deeds? It seems, not surprisingly, that some registries permit this practice; others do not. For the time being, the Lowell Registry will be with those that reject such a document, the notary certification notwithstanding. The copy versus original issue is much broader than the specific question posed above. I think that UETA (the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act), by stating that any law that requires an original document or an original signature is satisfied by the electronic equivalent of the document and signature, actually allows a photocopy of any original document to be recorded, even without any notary certification. What is a photocopy but an electronic image of an original duplicated on another sheet of paper? Don’t get me wrong, we’re not allowing photocopies to be recorded here in Lowell, but I think that is a reasonable interpretation of UETA. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Sorry if anyone was inconvenienced by the registry being closed yesterday because of this past weekend’s big snowstorm. Several of us actually showed up at the registry yesterday morning ready to open for business, but the courthouse had been ordered closed and building safety and security dictates that the public cannot enter the building without the security checkpoint being staffed. So, when the courthouse is closed, the registry must be closed as well.