Notarios and Preservation of Error

Avila v. State (Published): In some Spanish-speaking countries, a “notario” is a legal advocate. Playing on this, some notaries in Texas (and elsewhere) have taken up providing immigration and other legal advice. Two problems: 1. the notary laws in Texas have a general prohibition against providing legal advice, and 2. only attorneys and specially-qualified representatives of non-profit agencies may represent petitioners before the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Citizenship and Immigration Services).

In 2003, the Texas AG’s office announced that it was going after notarios. This case is a successful product of that well-publicized effort.

The AG sued a husband and wife “notario” team in Tyler for the unauthorized practice of law and deceptive trade practices, seeking civil damages and an injunction.

At trial, the husband and wife objected to the unauthorized practice of law questions on grounds that they were duplicative, and there was no evidence to support their submission to the jury. On appeal, they complained that the questions were immaterial, and constituted a comment on the weight of the evidence.

The Tyler court held that the charge error complaints were waived because the complaints at trial didn’t match the complaints on appeal.

On other issues raised in this appeal, the Tyler court held that …
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