Notarios, Fraud and Immigration Law
Notario fraud is a crime that victimizes vulnerable members of the immigrant community. The fraud exploits the differences between Latin-American and United States legal traditions to defraud persons seeking help navigating the U.S. immigration process.
In Oregon the problem of notario fraud has become serious enough to prompt general education of attorneys on the subject. The Oregon State Bar held a conference devoted to notario fraud on 9/24/2014. The Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown gave a keynote address to the conference emphasizing the seriousness of the problem.
The notary is a common functionary in civil law legal systems. While they are called notario in Spanish they are also present in other civil law countries. They are called notaire in French speaking countries and symvoulogrpahos in Greek speaking countries. All share a common in the classical Roman tabelliones.
The tabelliones was a development of the early Roman Imperial era. Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the 3rd century, discusses the tabelliones as an established institution in the legal profession alongside lawyers, advocati, and students of law, iuris studiosi. They were responsible for recording legal documents in Latin and maintaining documents, especially wills.
The modern civil law notary is a descendant of the Roman tabelliones. This official, particularly the Spanish speaking noratio, is a highly trained legal professional. The notario is a public official who represents a transaction rather than individuals. The notario is expected to impartially all parties to the transaction. Then the notary is empowered to authenticate the finished document. authentication is required in transfers of real property.
As a public official required by law to professionally and impartially prepare and advise on the preparation of documents the notario is an important and trusted part of Latin American legal systems. Immigrants from Latin American countries are used to looking to notaries for legal advice. This trust is used against them in notario fraud. American notaries take advantage of the similar language to confuse persons seeking immigration advice. They provide untrained and often inadequate advice.
The remedy for this fraud is to educate the immigrant population about the common law legal system and to create a well-trained cadre of attorneys ready to take on or intelligently refer immigration cases.
The State of Oregon Law Library can help! We have reference books available at every skill level.
· Weissbrodt, D., & Danielson, L. (2011) Immigration Law and Procedure. (6th ed.). West.
o This is an introduction to the basic concepts in immigration law.
· Bray, I. (2011) U.S. Immigration Made Easy. (15th ed.). NOLO.
o This is a step by step approach to U.S. immigration law intended for an amateur audience.
o Nolo also has a website dedicated to this topic here.
· Steel, R.D. (2014) Steel on Immigration Law. Thompson Reuters.
o This is a encyclopedia of rules, laws and concepts in immigration law aimed at legal professionals.
· Frangomen, A.T. Jr., & Bell, S.C. (2014) Immigration Fundamentals: A guide to Law and Practice (4th ed.) New York: Practicing Law Institute.
o This is a practice oriented reference work focusing on the practical practice of immigration law aimed at attorneys.
Come to the Law Library, email, or call us and we will be happy to assist you.
Gröschler, Peter. "Tabelliones." Brill’s New Pauly. Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider. Brill Online, 2014. Reference. 26 September 2014 http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/brill-s-new-pauly/tabelliones-e1127910
Malavet, P.A., (1996). Counsel for the situation: the Latin notary, a historical and comparative model. Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, 19, 389
Olsen, T.B., (2012). Combating “notario fraud” locally. Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, 22, 383
Rose, J., (1998). The legal profession in medieval England: a history of regulation. Syracuse Law Review, 48, 1