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Members of the Latino Bar Association in front of the federal court building.
Photo courtesy the Latino Bar Association.
Mexico City has a population of 9 million people and is served by only 243 notario publicos. Even if a candidate has met the above qualifications and scored well on the written exam, a position is far from guaranteed, as new positions are available only when there is a vacancy. Roles Differentiated A notary public may: • • • • • • Take acknowledgements; Protest instruments; Administer oaths; Take depositions; Certify copies of documents not recordable in the public records; Show that a disinterested party duly notifies the validity of a document; and • Show that the signer is, indeed, who s/he says s/he is and that his/her reasons for signing are genuine.
A notario publico in Mexico City may: • Be an arbitrator; • Be a mediator; • Issue judicial opinions; • Intervene in judicial proceedings; • Ensure payment of taxes; • and more. In Mexico, the incorporation of every company, the buying and selling of all types of real estate, the establishment of deeds and wills, and the creation of mortgages, among other transactions, must be protocolized by a notario publico. It is the notario publico’s responsibility to labor over the document and make sure it is in conformance with the law. In many respects, the Mexican notario publico serves not only as a lawyer but also as a judge in his or her role as protector of the law. For example, next to the notario publico’s signature on a document is the phrase “I Give Faith” (Doy Fe). This is very distinct from the Nevada system. A Nevada notary public’s primary duty is to verify a signer’s identity and signature, and attest that the signer personally appeared before the notary at the time the notarization was taken. The notary is not verifying the truth of the statements in the document. The individual appearing before the notary and signing the document is responsible for the truth of such statements. The notary is only responsible for the truth of the statements in the notarial certificate that the notary completes, which says the person appeared before the notary and that such person signed or acknowledged his signature on the document on a specified date.
This special issue of Nevada Lawyer would not have been possible without the motivation, enthusiasm and cooperation of many individuals. The Latino Bar Association would like to thank the contributing authors for bringing this issue to life, in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. A very special thank you is extended to Nevada’s Hispanic leaders, who gave of their time and were willing to share their inspiring stories. In no particular order, the following individuals are appreciated for providing their encouragement, assistance and support in putting this issue together: Jennifer Smith, Melinda Catren and the staff of Nevada Lawyer; Erin Barnett, September issue editor; Maria E. Tiscareño, staff interpreter/translator for the Federal Public Defender; Professor Rachel J. Anderson; Jason Goudie and Kami Dempsey; Donna Zappia; Claudio Ferreiro, issue photographer; the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce; and the members of the Latino Bar Association. Finally, immense gratitude is extended to those who will read this issue and use its contents as a source of inspiration as they aspire to achieve greatness.
The New Legislation
Prior law, NRS 7.285, prohibits a person who is not an active member of the bar from engaging in the practice of law. The new law, AB 74, recognizes the current lawlessness and finds its justification in the current notario practice of providing “legal assistance” to another person. AB 74 sanctifies the position of one who provides “legal assistance,” not under the supervision of a lawyer, and gives them a name: document preparation service. In essence, this legislation permits a Legal Zoom-like service to operate in person rather than just online and vests prosecution of the unauthorized practice in the hands of the Secretary of State and eventually the Attorney General. Look for more information about this legislation in a future issue.
The principal difference between the Mexican notario publico and a Nevada notary public is that the Mexican notario publico is responsible for the legality of the content of a document, while the Nevada notary public only certifies the identity of the signer. AB 74 will enter into territory that the bar and law enforcement have left unregulated, hopefully to good effect.
Questions? Comments?
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September 2013 Nevada Lawyer 5

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