Part A. Tools to Function as a Notary Public
Section 1. The Notarial Journal
a. One Active Journal
A notary public must keep only one active sequential
journal at a time containing all notarial acts.
Keeping more than one active journal is never allowed. For example, if a notary public performs notarial acts at multiple offices, that notary public cannot use and store a separate notarial journal at each office. Instead, that notary public must use one journal and take that one journal to each office where services are performed.
b. Securing the Journal
No person except the notary public can have access to the notary publicís journal outside of the notary publicís presence including an employer who paid for the notary publicís journal. The journal must be stored in a locked and secured area that is under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public, for example a locking file cabinet, a safe or locked office. California Government Code section 8206(a)(1).
An office safe or file cabinet that any other person has access to is not an area under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public. It is unacceptable, for example, to keep the journal in a locked desk at home, if other family members have access to the contents of the desk. Failure to secure the journal may result in suspension or revocation of the notary publicís commission and civil and criminal penalties. California Government Code sections 8214.1(o), 8214.15(b), and 8228.1.
c. Sequential Recording of Official Acts
All official acts performed as a notary public must be recorded in the notary publicís active journal at the time the act is performed. The journal entries must be made sequentially by recording each notarial act in order of occurrence one after the other. California Government Code section 8206(a)(1)
d. Copying and Inspection of Journal
Any member of the public may request a photostatic copy
of the journal entry representing a transaction. The request must be in
writing and must include the name of the parties, the type of document,
and the month and year in which the notarial act occurred. The notary
public may charge no more than thirty cents per page for copy requests.
California Government Code section 8206(c). However, a member of the
public is not entitled to obtain a copy of other line items that may be
on the same page of the notary publicís journal and care should be taken
to ensure that only the requested line item entry is disclosed. The
notary public must respond within 15 days of receipt of the request with
either a plain copy (not certified) of the requested journal entry or an
acknowledgment that no such line item exists.
A notary public performing notarial duties for an employer must permit the employer or the employerís auditor or agent to inspect and copy journal entries. However, the inspection and copying must be done in the presence of the notary public and the journal entries being inspected and copied must be directly associated with the business purposes of the employer. The notary public, upon request of the employer, must provide plain copies (not certified) of all journal entries that are directly associated with the business purposes of the employer. California Government Code section 8206(d)
Upon receipt of a subpoena duces tecum or a court order, the notary public must provide the journal for examination and copying while the notary public remains present and the notary public must certify those copies, if requested. California Government Code section 8206(e)
e. Surrender, Loss or Destruction of Journal
The notary publicís journal is the exclusive property of the notary public and cannot be surrendered to anyone (except as required with respect to a peace officer and county clerk as specified below). Even if the notary publicís private or public employer has paid all of the costs to obtain the notary publicís commission and has paid for all the costs to provide notarial services, the notary public cannot allow their employer to handle the journal outside the notary publicís presence, and cannot surrender the journal to the employer upon termination of employment. California Government Code section 8206(d)
A notary public must surrender their official journal
immediately, or as soon as possible if the journal is not present, to a
peace officer acting in his or her official capacity who has reasonable
suspicion the journal contains evidence of a criminal offense and who is
investigating that criminal offense.
If the notarial journal is surrendered to a peace officer, the notary public must obtain a receipt for the journal and must notify the California Secretary of State by certified mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt within 10 days of the date of surrender. California Government Code section 8206(d). The notification must include the dates covered for the journal entries in the surrendered journal, the notary publicís commission number, the expiration date of the notary publicís commission and a copy of the receipt given by the peace officer for the journal.
If a notary publicís official journal is stolen, lost, misplaced, destroyed, damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable, the notary public must immediately notify the California Secretary of State by certified or registered mail or any other means of physical delivery that provides a receipt. The notification must include the dates covered for the journal entries, the notary publicís commission number, the expiration date of the notary publicís commission, and, when applicable, a photocopy of any police report that specifies the theft of the journal. California Government Code section 8206(b).
If a notary public surrenders the official journal, or if the notary publicís official journal is stolen, lost, misplaced, destroyed, damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable, the notary public must obtain a new journal. If the old journal is returned or found, entries must not be made in the old journal. The notary public must continue to use the new journal. California Government Code section 8206(d).
If a notary public resigns, is disqualified, or is
removed from office, the notarial journal and all other notarial records
must be delivered to the clerk of the county in which the notary
publicís current oath is on file within 30 days of the resignation,
disqualification or removal. Additionally, if a notary publicís
commission expires and the notary public has not obtained reappointment
within 30 days after the expiration of the commission, then the notarial
journal and other notarial records must be delivered within the next 30
days to the county clerk. Even if a notary public has applied for
reappointment, but, for whatever reason, is not granted a commission
within 30 days after expiration of their commission, the notary public
must deliver the notarial journal and other notarial records to the
county clerk within the next 30 days. Willful failure to deliver the
notarial journal and other notarial records to the county clerk within
the appropriate time is a misdemeanor, and the notary public is
personally liable for damages to any person injured by the non-delivery.
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