New York State Bar Association President Calls Removal of Notary Requirement in Civil Cases a Big Step Forward for Access to Justice
A new law allowing litigants in a civil case to file affidavits and other sworn documents without getting them notarized will eliminate unnecessary delays and needless costs in civil lawsuits.
“This law is a big step forward for access to justice,” said Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association. “The notarization requirement was a big impediment in civil litigation, particularly for unrepresented parties in rural areas of the state where finding a notary is difficult. We commend Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing the bill.”
In a letter of support for the bill, S5162 (Hoylman-Sigal)/A5772 (Lavine), sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul on July 31, Lewis told the governor that: “An undue burden falls on unrepresented parties when they need to file a sworn document, such as an affidavit or a verified pleading that requires notarization, in New York State court civil actions and proceedings.” He noted that finding a notary became even more difficult during the pandemic.
In addition to its success on this law, the New York State Bar Association and its Government Relations Department reached many of its major legislative objectives during the 2023 session. Several priorities and key initiatives were passed by the Senate and Assembly and await review by the governor. These include removing a requirement that out-of-state attorneys practicing in New York have an office in the state, passing the Equal Rights Amendment and sealing the conviction records of some New Yorkers who have served sentences for certain felonies.
The association also saw success in its effort to raise the pay rates of Attorneys for Children and 18b attorneys to $158 per hour after twenty years without an increase in pay. In November 2022, the association sued New York State, seeking to compel an increase in the rates of compensation for assigned counsel equal to what lawyers receive in federal court and to provide a mechanism for continued increases. That lawsuit continues in New York State Supreme Court.