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Officer’s Political Subdivision; Residence

An acknowledgment is essential to a valid registration of a deed and also to justify its admission in evidence.  It is also a prima facie evidence of the execution of the deed.  The certificate of acknowledgement is a piece of evidence which shows that the acknowledgement was done in accordance with the law.  Some states require that the name of the officer’s political subdivision must be set forth in the certificate of acknowledgment in order for the certificate to be valid.  This is because the county or other political division in which the acknowledging officer maintains an office is an essential part of the officer’s official title.  Further, the place of notarization cannot be inferred from a certified fact.  Thus, even if a notary is required to indicate the political subdivision and the county in which he/she maintains office, this is not an attestation of the place of notarization.[i]

In some other jurisdictions, omission of the name of the officer’s county is not a fatal error invalidating a certificate of acknowledgment unless a statute requires the acknowledging officer to certify to his/her territorial jurisdiction.  Courts have given a liberal interpretation to this requirement by reasoning that if mistakes are made by the officer in taking an acknowledgment, they are open to explanation and correction and the omission of the name of the county in the certificate of the officer cannot be regarded as a substantial defect.[ii]

In Ross & Co’s Appeal, 106 Pa. 82 (Pa. 1884) the validity of an acknowledgment was questioned “where the certificate made by a justice of the peace omitted the county in which he was acting, and it was held that in the absence of proof to the contrary the presumption was that the justice was acting within his jurisdiction and the acknowledgment was upheld.”  Further, courts have held that a statement that an acknowledgement was taken in the township where the justice holds his office is not required normally.[iii]  In some states, a statement as to the officer’s residence is not necessary and hence an omission of the notary’s place of residence is not a material defect. [iv]

[i] Commonwealth v. Frey, 258 Pa. Super. 288, 292 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1978)

[ii] Mathewson v. Richards, 114 Kan. 500, 503 (Kan. 1923), Heil v. Redden, 45 Kan. 562 (Kan. 1891)

[iii] Douglass v. Bishop, 45 Kan. 200, 204 (Kan. 1891).

[iv] Griffin v. Catlin, 25 Wash. 474, 475 (Wash. 1901)

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