An attestation made by a proper officer, by which he certifies that a record is in due form of law, and that the person who certifies it is the officer appointed by law to do so.
The U.S.Constitution, Art. IV s. I, declares, 'Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state. And congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts,, records and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.' The object of the authentication is to supply all other proof of the record. The laws of the United States have provided a mode of authentication of public records and office papers; these acts are here transcribed.
By the Act of May 26, 1790, it is provided, 'That the act of the legislatures of the several states shall be authenticated by havig the seal of their respective states affixed thereto: That the records and judicial proceedings of the courts of any state shall be proved or admitted, in any other court within the United States, by the attestation of the clerk, and the seal of the court annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the judge, chief justice or presiding magistrate, as the case may be, that the said attestation is in due form. And the said records and judicial proceedings, authenticated as aforesaid, shall have such faith and credit given to them, in every court within the United States, as they have, by law or usage, in the courts of the state from whence the said records are, or shall be taken.'
The above act having provided only for one species of record, it was necessary to pass the Act of March 27, 1804, to provide for other cases. By this act it is enacted, 'That, from and after the passage of this act, all records and exemplifications of office books, which are or may be kept in any public office of any state, not appertaining to a court, shall be proved or admitted in any other court or office in any other state, by the attestation of the keeper of the said records or books, and the seal of his office thereto annexed, if there be a seal, together with a certificate of the presiding justice of the court of the county or district, as the case may be, in which such office is or may be kept or of the governor, the secretary of state, the chancellor or the keeper of the great seal of the state, that the said attestation is in due form, and by the proper officer and the said certificate, if given by the presiding justice of a court, shall be further authenticated by the clerk or prothonotary of the said court, who shall certify, under his hand and the seal of his office, that the said presiding justice is duly commissioned and qualified; or if the said certificate be given by the; governor, the secretary of state, the chancellor or keeper of the great seal, it shall be under the great seal of the state in which the said certificate is made. And the said records and exemplifications, authenticated as aforesaid, shall have such faith and credit given to them in every court and office within the United States, as they have by law or usage in the courts or offices of the state from whence the same are or shall be taken.'
- That all the provisions of this act, and the act to which this is, a supplement, shall apply, as well to the public acts, records, office books, judicial proceedings, courts, and offices of the respective territories of the United States, and countries subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, as to the public acts, records, office books, judicial proceedings, courts and offices of the several states.'
The Act of May 8, 1792, s. 12, provides: That all the records and proceedings of the court of appeals, heretofore appointed, previous to the adoption of the present constitution, shall be deposited in the office of the clerk of the supreme court of the United States, who is hereby authorized and directed to give copies of all such records and proceedings, to any person requiring and paying for the same, in like manner as copies of the records and other proceedings of the said court are by law directed to be given; which copies shall have like faith and credit as all other proceedings of the said court.'
By authentication is also understood whatever act is done either by the party or some other person with a view of causing an instrument to be known and identified as for example, the acknowledgment of a deed by the grantor; the attesting a deed by witnesses.
This entry contains material from Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, a work published in the 1850's.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library