Appellate Court Rules That Notarization Is Not Required To Be On The Same Page As Signature
Have you ever considered whether a document that requires notarization must be notarized on the same page as the signature? The Fourth District Court of Appeal in Johnson v. Christiana Trust, Case No. 4D14-3495 (Fla. 4th DCA June 17, 2015), recently analyzed this precise issue.
In Johnson, the trial court denied the appellant/defendant’s motion to quash service of process because it found that the affidavits in support of the motion were improper because the notarizations were on separate pages from the affiants’ signatures. While the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order for other reasons, the Court was clear in its ruling that the notarization being on a separate page from the affiants’ signatures did not render the affidavit invalid.
The Court determined that the applicable statute regarding notarization, Section 117.05, Florida Statutes, does not require notarization on the same page as the affiant’s signature. The Court further noted that “Florida courts have concluded that minor technical defects in an affidavit do not render it a nullity.” Id. (quoting Gupton v. Dep’t of Highway Safety, 987 So. 2d 737, 738 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008)). Concluding that the trial court’s refusal to consider the affidavit was due to a mere “technical defect,” the Court concluded that the affidavit should have been considered by the trial court.
As mentioned above, the Court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to quash service of process for another reason. Invoking the tipsy coachman doctrine, which allows an appellate court to affirm a trial court’s ruling based upon reasoning other than the issues previously argued, the Court found that the defendant did not provide sufficient evidence to quash service of process. In reaching this conclusion, the Court found that to challenge the validity of service of process, “a defendant may not impeach the validity of the summons with a simple denial of service, but must present ‘clear and convincing evidence’ to corroborate his denial.” Id. (quoting Telf Corp. v. Gomez, 671 So. 2d 818, 819 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996)). Because the defendant in Johnson did not introduce clear and convincing evidence that service of process was invalid, the Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of her motion to quash service of process.
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