Search Warrant Conducted in Relation to Former Notary Public
MISSION - Starr County's Special Crimes Unit conducted a search warrant at a Mission law firm Tuesday.
Computers and files were taken by investigators.
Although the city is out of the county's jurisdiction, Brenda Lee, Law Enforcement Liaison working with SCU, explained this is in connection to a case that originated in Starr.
It involves the January arrest of a former notary public in Starr County.
Juana Maria Rodriguez is accused of personification of an attorney, fraud and theft.
Immigration attorney Carlos Garcia explains this happens often in the Rio Grande Valley.
There's confusion among border residents about the authority granted to notary publics in the United States.
In Mexico, Garcia explains, notary publics have the ability to act as attorneys; in Texas, that's illegal.
"It’s really essential that a person verifies the credentials. A 'notario' has the ability to witness some documentation for instance and signatures and verify certain information but other than that they don't have the ability to handle the legal work," Garcia explains.
According to the Texas Secretary of State's Office, a notary public is not a 'notario publico.'
They are not authorized to practice law, give legal advice, or prepare legal documents.
They cannot charge a fee for preparation of immigration documents or represent someone in immigration matters.
If the Secretary of State's office finds a notary public is not abiding by the rules, they can get an informal reprimand or lose the notary license.
The state does not have the power to prosecute for criminal violations.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a notary public's actions can file a complaint with their District Attorney's Office.
The Starr County Special Crimes Unit investigation is still ongoing. More details are expected to be released as it develops.