TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: September 18, 2016
RE: Rule 11, N.D.R.Civ.P., Signing of Pleadings, Motions and Other Papers; Representations to Court; Sanctions
Attorney Clifton Rodenburg has requested that the committee consider a rule amendment that would limit requirements to notarize documents submitted in civil cases. In an email, attached, Mr. Rodenburg points out that, by statute, Minnesota has for the most part eliminated the requirement that documents filed with the court be notarized. Mr. Rodenburg states that notarizing documents in default judgment cases is expensive and time consuming because paper documents must be prepared, notarized, and then scanned in for filing via Odyssey. Mr. Rodenburg's email is attached in addition to a copy of the Minnesota statute he references.
Mr. Rodenburg also provided an article "Goodbye to Affidavits" that discusses the ongoing effort in the federal system to eliminate the need for notarized documents. The article notes that more than 20 states (including Minnesota) have limited notarization requirements. A copy of the article is attached.
Staff has prepared a proposed amendment to Rule 11 combining language from the Minnesota statute and the federal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1746, copy attached. The proposed language is intended to apply to civil actions only. The committee has previously acted to draft amendments to the criminal rules that would allow licensed peace officers to make unsworn declarations in support of complaints and arrest warrants. These proposed amendments are now before the Court as part of the Annual Rules Package.
The first sentence of the proposed amendment is based on the first sentence of the Minnesota statute. The remainder of the proposed amendment is based on the federal statute, which contains a comprehensive list of types of sworn documents and a list of unsworn documents which can be substituted. The language is a bit verbose and the committee may wish to look at ways to winnow it down.
There are several civil rules that the proposed change may impact: Rules 43 (evidence), 53 (masters), 55 (default), 56 (summary judgment), 59 (new trial) and 65 (injunctions) allow affidavits to be submitted as evidence and Rule 4 requires affidavits as proof of service. Rule 33 requires interrogatories to be submitted under oath and Rule 68 (confession of judgment) allows a defendant to make a verified statement under oath.
A copy of the proposed amendments is attached.