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[11 FSM Intrm. 244]
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YOSIWO P. GEORGE, Chief Justice:
On or about October 14, 2002, the Certificate of Live Birth for Alex P. Phillip was submitted to the Kosrae State Court for certification. Upon review of the Certificate, it was noted that the Certificate of Live Birth contained the incorrect year of birth. Therefore, a hearing on the certification of the Certificate of Live Birth was held on October 23, 2002. The following persons appeared at the hearing and provided information to the Court: Alex P. Phillip; Dr. Hirosi Ismael, Director of Health Services; Ronald P. Bickett, Attorney General; Palokoa Charley, SSA Kosrae Branch Manager; Salpasr Tilfas, Administrator for Division of Personnel and Palikkun Etse, FSM Immigration Kosrae Office Manager.
This hearing was called due to the Court's statutory duty to certify Certificates of Live Birth. Where the Court has information that items on the Certificate are incorrect, it will refuse to certify the Certificate. In this case, the Court noted that the birth year for the subject was incorrect and therefore properly refused to certify the Certificate of Live Birth for Alex P Phillip.
The Certificate of Live Birth is a document with critical legal importance. The Certificate serves as the basis for establishing a person's date of birth, which is then used for issuance of a variety of documents, including a driver's license and a passport, and eligibility for programs such as financial aid, loans, social security, insurance, etc. These documents are then utilized and relied upon not only in the State of Kosrae, and the Federated States of Micronesia, but also the United States and other international locations where a person may travel to. The Certificate of Live Birth forms the foundation
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upon which other important legal documents are issued. Therefore, the Certificate of Live Birth must be issued in accordance with a procedure, based upon credible factual information supporting the person's date of birth.
The Certificate of Live Birth, issued on October 4, 2002 to Alex Phillip by the Department of Health was not completed according to any procedure. The factual basis for the Certificate, including the birth date, was provided by the subject himself, Alex P. Phillip. The subject himself cannot provide the factual basis for the date of his birth, as his knowledge of this information is based upon hearsay only. A person does not have personal knowledge of his date of birth. The Department's acceptance of the Alex Phillip's information for his "new" birth date was without any credible factual basis. Accordingly, this Certificate of Live Birth cannot be certified by this Court.
The Department of Health Services is responsible for the issuance of birth certificates. In the past, the Department has been lax and irresponsible in the issuance of birth certificates. Birth certificates have been issued without receipt of credible factual support for information included in the Certificate of Live Birth. The Department of Health is required to establish procedure for the issuance of Certificates of Live Birth which ensure credibility of the factual information on the Certificate.
There were also three passports issued to Alex Phillip. The first two passports, issued in 1986 and 1996, contained the birthdate of May 30, 1947. The third passport, issued in 2001, contained the birthdate of May 30, 1946. There was no Court decree to support the change of birthdate for the third passport. Instead, the Office of Immigration accepted an affidavit from the subject, which stated his "new" birthdate as being true and correct. Mr. Palikkun Etse explained that because a Court employee notarized that affidavit, the affidavit was given more credibility by his Office.
There are several notaries public employed in the State of Kosrae. While the majority of notaries are employed by State Government, several are employed by other offices and by private entities. The duties of a notary public are the same, regardless of where they are employed. A notarization performed by a Court employee carries the same weight as a notarization performed by a privately employed individual.
The duties of a notary public are specified by law, at Kosrae State Code, Section 15.408. A notary public has the power to administer an oath, and to receive proof and acknowledgement of a writing. Therefore, a notary public administers an oath to a person making the affidavit. The notary also receives proof of identity and signature of the person making the affidavit. In other words, a notary only confirms that the person appeared before him or her, was identified by the notary, and signed the affidavit (or other document) in the presence of the notary. Identity is confirmed by personal knowledge or by appropriate documentation. The identity and signature of the person signing the affidavit are verified by the notary public, and so noted on the document.
A notary cannot and does not verify or confirm the statements in the affidavit because the notary does not have personal knowledge of those statements. For example, a notary can notarize a document written in a foreign language, even though the notary cannot read and understand the foreign language. Notarization of a document does not establish truth to the statements made in the document: notarization only verifies the identity and signature of the person who signed the document. Consequently, notarization of a document by a Court employee does not represent any Court endorsement or certification of the statements made in the document.
Alex Phillip testified regarding the basis for the change in his birthdate. He stated that he asked around to colleagues of his age, and from those informal conversations, determined that his own birthdate was probably 1946 and not 1947. This is not credible information and cannot serve as the
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factual basis on which to change the record of a person's birthdate. Accordingly, Mr. Phillip may submit to the Court, credible evidence in support of his newly claimed birthdate, May 30, 1946. Until such time as a Court decree is issued to order a change in the birthdate, all records which contain the birthdate of Alex Phillip shall remain as May 30, 1947. The Department of Health may issue a Certificate of Live Birth which reflects the birthdate of Alex Phillip as May 30, 1947. Furthermore, this Court suggests that the Office of Immigration reissue Mr. Phillip's passport to reflect his birthdate of May 30, 1947.
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