Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scary Monsters - Signs of Attorney Corruption and Burn Out

I got another sign of the corruption of high level people in law the other day when I performed a loan signing for an attorney at her home in Pacific Heights.  I did a Google search to learn who she was prior to the signing because this lady sounded really needy in a routine call I made to confirm the appointment.

When we first spoke, this single attorney, in her mid-50's, was all out of breath sounding overwhelmed so I knew I was going to have a hard time with her from the get go. The next day I got a call from her that she had rescheduled the appointment for the next day having requested the bank change some figures, which has never happened to me before.  The bank confirmed such a request was unusual.

So here's how the signing began. I  arrived at 2:00 p.m. on my cute little folding electric bicycle that has advertising for Nob Hill Notary plastered all over it along with a little flag banner on the back.  As I went to the door of the Pacific Heights home, which was fairly nice but nothing that impressive, I stood on the steps a few moments to make sure my hair and clothing was in place after the ride.  The attorney was apparently aware of me the entire time in how she opened the door and asked what was taking so long, questioning if I couldn't figure out how to work her door knocker hanging on the door.  The attorney then promptly pointed me to her dining room table and she proceeded as one of the very few who didn't offer me any refreshments.

As we proceeded with the signing, the attorney immediately began complaining about the bank and process for her refinance.  This complaining isn't all to uncommon so I lent a sympathetic ear and proceeded.  Okay, here goes with what followed.

Signs of Corruption - Many Attorneys Believe They're Above the Law

A Partner Attorney from a Top Law Firm Expected Me To Provide Legal Advice to Her During Loan Signing (Unauthorized Practice of Law)

Next the attorney immediately began to complain I wasn't explaining the loan documents to her  which would have been a violation of the law.  As a notary public, there are strict laws in which I cannot provide legal advice in explaining loan documents, only directing the borrower to where things are, such as where she can find interest rates and her monthly mortgage payments, or where she is to sign.

After I explained to the attorney my providing such legal guidance for her loan documents would constitute the unauthorized practice of law, she insisted a previous loan signing agent had done it for her.  Clearly she was hoping to manipulate any insecurity I might have in order to try and influence me to violate the law to assist her. I was appalled to say the least.  Most people have their act together and know what they're doing.  You'd think an attorney with a nice home in Pacific Heights would know what she was doing with her refinance loan documents.

A Partner Attorney Claimed She Had Never Been Required to Take an Oath for a Notarization Before and Believed It was Unnecessary Mocking My Suggestion I Could Go to Prison For Not Administering It

A few documents in refinance loan packages, such as signature affidavits, require an oath to be taken of the borrower by a notary public. In an emerging pattern of protests over my following the law, this attorney immediately complained upon my requesting an oath from her claiming "no one has ever asked me to take an oath for a notarization before!"  After her vehement protest, I explained I could go to prison for not taking an oath. The attorney responded "I don't think so."   The attorney continued to reason she had no idea if the bank's statements in the document were true, so why should she have to take an oath?  While that reasoning seemed quite legitimate, I nonetheless began to consider stopping the loan signing which I am required to do when a borrower is having such problems.

After I told the attorney I was considering stopping the loan signing since she was obviously uncomfortable, she immediately behaved herself claiming she didn't want to have to go through it again.  As we finally got through all the papers the time came for the attorney to sign my notarial journal for the notarizations of four documents.

A Partner Attorney at a Major Law Firm Claimed My Requesting Her to Sign My Notarial Journal Multiple Times was Completely Unnecessary Claiming One Signature was Sufficient

I thought after I threatened to stop the signing the attorney wouldn't complain anymore but I was wrong.  At the end of the signing process, as is procedure, I requested she sign my journal four times. All she had to do was sign under her printed name for the four documents I notarized for her and give her thumb print.  It was apparently too much to ask! The attorney immediately protested signing multiple times for each document type alleging she had never signed more than once in a notarial journal before.  I had to blink twice since I could hardly believe this was happening.

In response to her allegations I was requesting something unnecessary of her highness, I explained I had checked a while back with the National Notary Association that confirmed that California Secretary of State Debra Bowen was enforcing notaries to have people sign in the journal for each document notarized.  Still the attorney wanted to argue, so much so that she had the audacity to leave a voice mail for her secretary in front of me about it.  The attorney kept me waiting with her phone call asking "are people required to sign more than once in a notary's journal?"

Sensing I wouldn't be processing her notarized documents without her cooperation, the attorney signed the journal as if it was a huge ordeal and effort to make.  Four whole signatures!  No one had ever complained about signing my journal before, ever!  Many people at these signings are required to sign 10 times.  These other borrowers understand I am a public servant who is trained and responsible for knowing the law,  but not this attorney who obviously thinks she's above it.

A Partner Attorney at a Major Law Firm Stated Her Legal Secretary Disagreed With My Claim it was a Legal Requirement to Sign My Notarial Journal For Each Notarization

The next day I was required to obtain another notarization from the attorney for a second Deed of Trust. This time I met with at her law firm offices.  At the meeting, the attorney immediately confirmed without my inquiry what her legal secretary had originally claimed saying that a notary public can provide "dittos" of the signatures after the first one is completed. I said, "oh, really?"  The attorney added with great confidence "it is recommended by not legally required" for me to obtain a signature in my notarial journal for each notarization.  I confirmed the notary's name with the attorney for future reference, "So your secretary's name is such and such?" I asked,  blood beginning to boil. 

One might imagine that by this time I had quite enough of this attorney's protests over my following the law doing my job as a notary public.  The attorney attempted to rewrite the laws for me to follow in proclaiming with great confidence  "There's no legal requirement  for you to obtain a signature in your journal for each notarized document."  In retrospect, I wonder what happens to people who rely on attorney's advice such as these? I'm referring to these kind of attorneys who just kind of make up the law as they go based on what their legal secretary tells them, or what one wishes to hear to make their life easier?

I imagined if I had an attorney I worked for like this lady who paid me a good salary I might be greatly intimidated from following the law as such and make things as convenient as possible for her.  Regardless, when another notary public such as myself is treated as if I don't know what I'm doing though I have clearly stated the law, and the attorney chooses to disregard and still believe whatever she wants to believe, I take issue.

The attorney's legal secretary has since been reported to the California Secretary of State for not following Section 8206 insisting it is not a legal requirement to obtain signatures for each notarization.  I made it clear in my complaint I gave all the information on the law that the attorney refused to accept in her insisting I wasn't following proper procedure to require proper signatures in my journal.  Nothing will come of the complaint I'm sure, but it needed to be done nonetheless.  An attorney gave me a very hard time in my following the law and I take issue with her trying to lure me into her type of corruption in being above the law.

A Brilliant David Bowie's Scary Monsters = Scary Burn Out Attorneys

Basically, we all know this attorney should know better.  This scary monster attorney may be one of those typical overworked burned out women at law firms, but she chose to override my notifying her of the law.  This attorney treated me with contempt and didn't believe a word I told her.  Off to the complaint box she goes.