The role of a notary public in sworn statements
The role of a notary public in sworn statements might go over the heads of most people. However, for one American man back in 2011, an affidavit – a written statement that is confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court – was cleverly used to expose his wife’s manipulative ways.
Known informally as the “Spy vs. Spy” case, David Voelkert, then 38, was arrested following an alleged friendship with a 17-year-old Facebook friend who went by the name of “Jessica Studebaker.” While it’s not illegal to be Facebook friends with a minor, the conversation was actually a plot by Mr Voelkert’s ex-wife to extract information from Mr Voelkert, with the intention of using transcripts from the conversation against him. What Mr Voelkert’s ex-wife did not know, however, was that her ex-husband was in on the ruse from the get-go.
It was assumed by Mr Voelkert that the ‘Studebaker’ account was a fake account created by his ex-wife Angela, then 29. More specifically, the reason for Angela’s desire to accumulate dirt on Mr Voelkert was to collect evidence for an ongoing child custody dispute. And she might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for the legal ingenuity of her ex-husband.
“I knew she was doing it, so I played along” isn’t a very good defence if used with notarisation; however, Mr Voelkert made it very clear in his affidavit that he had cottoned on to his ex-wife’s dastardly scheme in advance. The supposed ‘incriminating’ Facebook messages which were sent by Mr Voelkert were sent six days after his sworn affidavit had been notarised. Demonstrating foresight, Mr Voelkert held one copy of the affidavit, with a relative holding a second copy just in case. The FBI, who were put in charge of the case, interviewed the bank employee that had notarised the affidavit, and they were able to confirm from this that the affidavit was, in fact, genuine, and Mr Voelkert’s case was soon thrown out.
This case, while taking place in America, is a textbook example of how using a sworn statement can make a powerful case that doesn’t just rely on he said/she said. Although a bank clerk notarised the sworn statement in this instance, a notary public in the UK, like South London Notaries performs such vital functions every day.