Nonprofit Notary Foundation Rallying To Support Mexico City Earthquake Relief
By Michael Lewis on September 26, 2017 in NNA News
Notary Foundation Rallying To Support Mexico Earthquake Relief
As the people of Mexico City continue rescue and relief efforts after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake devastated the country’s capitol, Notaries and immigrant service providers are rallying to help the victims rebuild their lives.
The nonprofit National Notary Foundation, supported by a nationwide community of immigrants and public servants, has launched the Mexico City Earthquake relief fund. Your donations will provide vital support and resources for those who have lost everything, and the NNF will match your donations up to $25,000. Many people in the U.S. have friends, families or business partners who are suffering. Donate today and help relief organizations put vital resources where they’re needed most.
With 331 people confirmed dead and many still missing, rescue and recovery efforts will continue for weeks to come. And with more than 20 million people affected by the quake, people and families need all possible help to get back on their feet.
How To Donate
To donate, call us at 1-800-876-6827, Monday through Friday, from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT. Or send a check (payable to NNF Supports) to National Notary Foundation, Attn: Earthquake Relief, P.O. Box 4567, Chatsworth, CA 91313. Our combined efforts will go a long way toward helping those affected by the earthquake to rebuild their lives.
Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.
Charlottesville Victim Was A Virginia Notary Public
By NNA Staff on August 16, 2017 in Notary News
The National Notary Association reports today that Heather D. Heyer, who was killed August 12 in the Charlottsville, Virginia tragedy, was a Notary Public. Described as a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised, Heyer was a paralegal at the Miller Law Group, where she worked in the firm’s bankruptcy division.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that a member of the Notary community was killed while standing up for what she believed in,” said National Notary Association President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Heymann. “As a Notary, she was committed to impartially serving the public in a professional and civil way.”
Alfred A. Wilson, a manager of the Miller Law Group in Charlottesville, told The New York Times that Heather stood up against “any type of discrimination.” Others who lived in Charlottesville said that Heather always spoke strongly against inequality and urged co-workers to be active in their community.
“She died fighting for her beliefs and campaigning against hate,” her coworker Marissa Blair told CNN. “She was very strong in what she felt, and she spoke with conviction. She would never back down from what she believed in.”
Heather was the latest Notary to lose her life in a historic event. In recent incidents, 28 NNA members were inside the World Trade center during the 9-11 attacks, although two were confirmed to have survived; several others died in the Jonestown massacre in Guyana; and dozens of service men and women Notaries in active engagements perished in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East.
Whether in their professional occupations or their personal lives, Notaries have served our country with integrity and goodness, said Heymann. “Heather Heyer was an example of that."
How One Notary’s Journal Changed History For An Entire State
By Kelly Rush on February 16, 2017 in Notary News
How One Notary’s Journal Changed History For An Entire State
(Originally published in the February 2017 issue of The National Notary magazine.)
Wanda Scheib, a Notary who worked in the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, had been doing her job for more than 20 years before her journal became the star of a criminal investigation that ultimately helped convict her top boss of perjury.
As a commissioned Notary, Scheib felt a responsibility to follow the law by keeping meticulous journal entries and always adhering to best practices. Although the high-profile case is unusual, Scheib’s actions underscore the true value and importance of keeping a journal of notarial acts, regardless of whether journals are required by law in a particular state.
A Routine Start
The story began on January 17, 2013, just two days after Kathleen Kane was inaugurated as Pennsylvania Attorney General. A meeting was called to discuss the transition that included Kane and her highest-ranking deputies. The new attorney general was going to be exposed to all kinds of private information as part of her duties, including secret grand jury testimony, and it was determined that she and the staff needed to take secrecy oaths that they would not divulge information from that testimony.
Scheib, an executive assistant, was hastily called to the meeting and asked to notarize oaths for both active grand juries and historical juries that had already expired. That day, Kane swore under penalty of contempt that she would protect that information.
Scheib executed jurats on the oath forms and recorded the transactions in her journal, according to a criminal complaint filed against Kane. Scheib had no idea that her notarizations, and the careful record she kept of them, would become the centerpiece in an investigation into whether or not the attorney general lied when she said documents she leaked to the press were not protected under a secrecy oath. In fact, the documents were protected, and Scheib’s Notary journal proved it, investigators said in the complaint.
By the Book
Scheib’s actions represent a step-by-step guide for Notaries seeking to uphold the law, follow professional standards of practice, protect the public and safeguard private information.
The day of the meeting, Scheib didn’t know exactly what she would be asked to do, so she brought her stamp and her journal with her, she said in court testimony.
Scheib testified that filling out the journal was a vital part of her job as a Notary: “Whenever I notarize a document, since I became a Notary, I record the document in this log.” Trial testimony brought out that the journal entries were made contemporaneously with the notarizations, and that Scheib stored her journal apart from other records, and nobody else had access to it. These are professional standards of practice for keeping journals.
Prosecutors recognized that recognized that both the notarized oath and Scheib’s journal were key pieces of evidence in the case against Kane. Michelle Henry, an assistant district attorney for Bucks County, noted in her opening trial statements that Scheib’s journal proves Kane took an oath. Without Scheib’s evidence, investigators might never have found out that Kane was sworn to secrecy, Henry said. But Scheib knew “because she notarized (the oath).”
After Kane was arrested in August 2015, Scheib went online and read the criminal complaint against her boss and realized something important: Kane said that she never signed oaths applying to previous grand jury information. But Scheib remembered notarizing just such oaths for both Kane and the other people in that initial meeting. That made Scheib “uncomfortable,” according to her testimony.
“I struggled with it,” she said. “I felt that, as a commissioned Notary, I had a duty to say something to somebody.”
Scheib was worried about losing her job. Kane was the head of the agency, and the other people who signed the oaths were members of upper management. “What’s going to happen to me if I do say something?” she recalled at the trial.
Despite her concern, she contacted a supervisor — a move she noted was “extremely” difficult. Even though she was not legally required to say anything, Scheib believed that ethics compelled her to say something.
Kane was eventually convicted on perjury and abuse of office charges, and then in October, the judge hearing the case handed down a sentence of 10 to 23 months in county jail, according to media reports.
The case is both a cautionary tale and an example of how a dedicated public servant can make a big difference. If Scheib had filled out her journal illegibly or failed to correctly notarize the oath, she may not have been able to provide the evidence prosecutors needed to prove their case.
Journals are important because issues involving a notarization often do not arise for years. Kane was arrested more than a year after Scheib made her journal entries. Though most Notaries will never make the news, and their journals will rarely be part of a court trial, they should be filled out and maintained as if the next criminal case depends on it.