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31 J. Marshall L. Rev. 651 (1997-1998)
The Public Official Role of the Notary

handle is hein.journals/jmlr31 and id is 661 raw text is: THE PUBLIC OFFICIAL ROLE OF THE
[Tihe court will take judicial notice of the seals of notaries public, for
they are officers recognized by the commercial law of the world. -
United States Supreme Court, 1883.1
The very designation of 'notary public' indicates a relation which the
incumbent of the office sustains to the body politic. - New York Court
of Appeals, 1895.'
The notary public is a government appointee, a creature
strictly of legislation, and scores of case decisions in addition to
the two noted just above have pronounced that notaries are public
officials.4 For instance, the 1838 Alabama Supreme Court decision
* Professor of Law, John Marshall Law School. Notary Public, State of
Illinois. B.S., M.A., Bradley University; J.D., University of Illinois. Member,
Commission to Draft Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility, Na-
tional Notary Association, 1997-1998.
1. Pierce v. Indseth, 106 U.S. 546, 549 (1883).
2. People v. Rathbone, 40 N.E. 395, 396 (N.Y. 1895).
ed. 1948) (stating the law is sole source of [the notary's] authority ... );
Guide to Notary Commission Eligibility, NAT'L NOTARY MAG., May 1997, at
23-25 (comparing certain notary statutory provisions of the 50 states and ter-
ritories). See also BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 956 (5th ed. 1979) (defining no-
tary public as, [o]ne who is authorized by the state or federal government to
administer oaths, and to attest to the authenticity of signatures). Indeed,
even the method of selection of notaries originally was the same as for other
GLOSSARY, at 2 (Nat'l Notary Ass'n 1978) (stating that [during the colonial
period Notaries Public were elected or appointed in the same way as judges in
each colony).
4. See Britton v. Niccolls, 104 U.S. 757, 765 (1881) (declaring that a no-
tary is a public officer); State v. Hodges, 107 Ark. 272 (1913) (stating that a
notary is a public officer); Ashcraft v. Chapman, 38 Conn. 230 (1871) (stating
that a notary is considered a public officer); May v. Jones, 14 S.E. 552, 553
(Ga. 1891) (stating the notary.., is a public officer, sworn to discharge his
duties properly); Pitsch v. Continental & Commercial Nat'l Bank, 137 N.E.
198, 200 (Ill. 1922) (identifying a notary as a public officer); Stork v. American
Surety Co., 33 So. 742, 743 (La. 1903) (asserting that a notary is a public offi-
cer); State v. Clark, 31 P. 545, 546 (Nev. 1892) (noting that [i]t has been fre-

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