Sponsors of notary bill: No connection to robo-signing issue
Lawmakers sponsoring a bill allowing notary signatures to be recognized in all states said it is not connected to foreclosure issues at major servicers and would not affect cases against these companies. The Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010 was passed by the House and Senate and presented to President Obama Sept. 30 for a still pending signature (the bill is found here). The bill would require any federal or state court to recognize a notarization made by a notary public in another state. It would also require identification of notaries by means of seal and would render any electronic documents tamper resistant. Ally Financial (GJM), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) have each suspended foreclosures in 23 states that require lenders to file lawsuits in order to foreclose. The banks have each cited affidavits signed without verifying information in the documents and without a notary present. State attorneys general across the country and federal regulators are asking other large servicers to review their processes. "There is absolutely no connection whatsoever between Congressman (Robert) Aderholt’s legislation and the recent foreclosure documentation problems," Darrell Jordan, a spokesman for Aderholt (R-Ala.) told HousingWire. Aderholt was the sponsor of the bill and has been pushing it since April 2005. The bill is also sponsored by Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Rep. Mke Castle (R-Del.) and Rep. Arthur Davis (D-Ala.). Thomas Cox, a Maine lawyer representing homeowners in a foreclosure case told Reuters that the bill would make it more costly and difficult to challenge cases. But Tim Reinger, director of the digital services group at FutureLaw, a law firm based in Richmond, Va., said the bill would only allow for a recognition of a notary signature from another state. It would not validate any unlawful signatures, and it still requires a notary to personally witness a signature. Reigner testified before Congress in 2006 during a hearing on the bill. "It was written to make the recognition process easier, simpler and cheaper," Reigner said. Aderholt first proposed the legislation in 2005 when a court stenographer in his district told him about a problem with getting courts in other states to accept depositions notarized in Alabama. "In addition, some small businesses in Alabama supported the concept of improving interstate commerce through this bill. After introduction of the bill, the National Notary Association, the court reporters, and the trial lawyers (American Trial Lawyers Association) all showed support for the bill," Jordan told HousingWire. A staffer in one of the other sponsor's offices said the bill does not coerce mortgage servicers to commit fraud. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray was the first to file a formal lawsuit against Ally Fiancial, formerly GMAC Mortgage, alleging the lender used fraudulent affidavits and documents to mislead courts. Ally continues to deny the fraud charges and will fight the suit. "The bill expressly requires lawful notarizations. Enforcement of bad notaries is a state responsibility and Congressman Aderholt fully supports each state attorney general vigorously prosecuting bank notarization fraud in their states," Jordan said. Write to Jon Prior.