Superior-court clerks in Georgia wear a lot of hats and perform numerous statutory duties.
Commissioning notaries public of the state is a power reserved exclusively for clerks of superior court.
A notary public is a public officer of the state authorized to witness or attest signature or execution of deeds and other written instruments. Additionally, Georgia law authorizes and empowers a notary to perform the following unique duties:
• Take acknowledgments;
• Administer oaths and affirmations in all matters incidental to their duties as commercial officers and all other oaths and affirmations that are not by law required to be administered by a particular officer;
• Witness affidavits upon oath or affirmation;
• Take verifications upon oath or affirmation; and
• Make certified copies, provided that the document presented for copying is an original document and is neither a public record nor a publicly recorded document — certified copies of which are available from an official source other than a notary — and provided that the document was photocopied under supervision of the notary.
To be eligible for a commission as a notary, individuals must be at least 18 years old, residents of Georgia, residents of the county from which they seek to be appointed, and able to read and write the English language. Persons who are residents of a state bordering Georgia and who carry on “a business or a profession” in Georgia also may be commissioned as notaries public by the clerk of superior court of the county in which they carry on such profession, business or employment.
Liberty County residents can obtain an application for appointment as a notary public from the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court (located in the Liberty County Justice Center at 201 S. Main St., Suite 1200, in Hinesville) or online at http://apps.gsccca.org/NotaryApplication. Persons applying for a commission must complete the application and “swear or affirm” to its truthfulness. Additionally, applicants must submit — along with the application — endorsements from two people who are not their relatives, who are 18 years of age or older and who reside in Liberty County, as to the applicants’ integrity, good moral character and capability to perform notarial acts. The declaration of the applicant must be signed in the presence of commissioned notary public of this state. A $37 fee is payable to the “Clerk of Superior Court” with the application.
The clerk has discretion to grant or deny the application. Denials are based on the applicant’s criminal history; restoration, suspension or restriction of any previous notary commission or professional license issued to the applicant in Georgia or any other state; commission of any act causing the applicant’s ineligibility to serve as a notary, as enumerated in O.C.G.A. § 45-17-5; or a finding that the applicant has in this or any other state engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. An applicant denied a commission shall, upon demand, be allowed a hearing and adjudication before the clerk of superior court with a right to an appeal to the superior court “without the intervention of a jury.”
If the application is approved, the clerk issues a certificate of appointment to the applicant. Notaries are required to procure from an office-supply company a seal of office containing their name, the words “Notary Public,” “State of Georgia” and “Liberty County.” The seal may facilitate embossment or may enable the use of a rubber or other type of stamp for imprinting the notary’s seal.
A notary holds office for four years with the right to petition the clerk at the end of each term for renewal of the commission. Renewal may be accomplished in person, by mail or online at the discretion of the clerk. The Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority keeps a registry of all commissioned notaries public of the state at http://search.gsccca.org/notary.
Notaries are prohibited by law from making claims that they have powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the office of notary does not authorize, including counseling on immigration matters and giving legal advice. Notaries who are not attorneys licensed to practice law in Georgia are barred from advertising services as notaries public by radio, television, signs, pamphlets or any other medium unless they state that they are not attorneys licensed to practice law and may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.
A notary public is authorized, but not required, by law to charge the following fees for services:
• Administering an oath in any case — $2
• Each attendance on any person to make proof as a notary public and certifying to same — $2
• Every other certificate — $2
It is illegal for a notary to charge more than $4 for each service performed — a $2 fee for performing the notarial act and a $2 fee for “attendance to make proof as a notary public and certifying to same.” Notaries are required prior to performing a notarial act to inform the party requesting their notarial services of the fees permitted for each act.
Any notary commission may be revoked by the clerk of superior court when the notary violates any provision relative to the duties and powers enumerated in Chapter 17 of Title 45 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated; when the notary performs any illegal notarial act; when the notary submits an application or endorsement for a notarial commission containing misstatements or omission of facts; when the notary ceases to reside, work or have a business in this state; or when the notary becomes incapable of reading or writing the English language.
For more information, visit www.libertyco.com/services/NotaryInformation.html.