Beginning January 1, 2024, a simplification in the legal system is coming to New York State.
New York Senate Bill S5162, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, will have a significant impact on civil court proceedings as it pertains to witness statements.
Currently, any party other than an attorney, physician, osteopath or dentist wishing to submit a statement to a Court must have that statement notarized. Proponents of the Bill argued that requiring statements be notarized created an unjust burden, particularly in rural communities where notaries may not be readily available.
The notary requirement further disproportionately impacted low-income individuals, many of whom may not be able to afford to take time off work to get a document notarized, may lack transportation to get to a notary or funds to pay the notary.
S5662 amends the current law, CPLR 2106, to read, in part:
The statement of any person wherever made, subscribed, and affirmed by that person to be true under the penalties of perjury, may be used in an action in New York in lieu of and with the same force and effect as an affidavit. Such affirmation shall be in substantially the following form:
I affirm this ___ day of ______, ____, under the penalties of perjury under the laws of New York, which may include a fine or imprisonment, that the foregoing is true, and I understand that this document may be filed in an action or proceeding in a court of law.
The concept of allowing affirmations instead of affidavits is not new. More than 20 states already allow the use of affirmations, as does the federal government. Passage of this Bill will make for a smoother, more equitable experience for those required to submit sworn statements in New York State civil matters.
Sara Rera of Gross Shulman PC