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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1952 No. 246 - Mar 4 1952
Attorney General Smith Troy


County auditors may not microfilm conveyances required to be recorded in well bound books.

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                                                                   March 4, 1952

Honorable Richard A. Perry
Prosecuting Attorney
Ferry County
Republic, Washington                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 246

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of February 6, 1952, in which you request our opinion on the following question:

            "Can micro-film [[microfilm]]be used for the purpose of recording instruments in the office of the County Auditor, bearing that statute in mind that requires deeds, mortgages and mortgage releases to be kept in a well bound book?"

            It is our conclusion that microfilming cannot be used for recording instruments in the office of the county auditor which are required by statute to be kept in a well bound book or upon which notations are required to be made.


            Chapter 223, Laws of 1949, (Rem. 1949 Supp., § 1257-4) in section 1 reads as follows:

            "The head of any business or the head of any state, county or municipal department, commission, bureau or board may cause any or all records  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] required or authorized by law to be made or kept by such official, department, commission, bureau, board or business to be photographed, microphotographed, photostated or reproduced on film for all purposes of recording documents, plats, files or papers, or copying or reproducing such records.  Such film or reproducing material shall be of permanent material and the device used to reproduce such records on such film or material shall be such as to accurately reproduce and perpetuate the original records in all details, and shall be approved for the intended purpose by the State Auditor."

            Section 2 of the act permits such copies to be received in evidence as original records.  The statute does not repeal any prior acts relative to county auditors nor to the recording of conveyances.  The statute gives authority to photograph, microfilm, photostat or reproduce on film all documents required by law to be reproduced.  We see nothing in the statute to indicate that the method of binding the reproduced documents into books, as specifically required by statute, may be dispensed with, nor is there anything in the statute quoted to indicate that the prescribed method of indexing documents or endorsing satisfactions of mortgages has been changed.  Requirements for recording conveyances are prescribed in section 2727, Code of 1881, as last amended by chapter 182, Laws of 1919 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 10601).  This section reads in part:

            "He must, upon payment of his fees for the same, record separately in large and well-bound books:

            "(1) Deeds, grants and transfers of real property, mortgages and releases of mortgages of real estate, powers of attorney to convey real estate, and leases which have been acknowledged or proved:  * * *"

            It will be noted that the requirement is that these documents shall be recorded separately in large and well bound books.  Microfilm does not meet this requirement.  Section 2729 of the Code of 1881, (Rem. Rev. Stat. 10604) relating to the satisfaction of mortgages, liens, etc. requires:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "* * * the auditor shall enter, with red ink, across the record of the instrument creating or evidencing such lien or encumbrance, the work 'satisfied,' with the day of the date of such satisfaction or release, and note the same in index of transcripts of judgment."

            Clearly this could not be complied with if microfilm were used.  Chapter 223, Laws of 1949 refers to several types of reproduction.  Copies made by photographing may be bound in the same manner that copies reproduced by hand may be bound.  There is no necessary inconsistency between the requirement that documents required to be recorded be kept in well bound books and the provisions of chapter 223, Laws of 1949.  Thus, the latter does not work any implied repeal of the provisions of the prior statutes relative to records to be maintained by the county auditors.  Under the provisions of chapter 223, Laws of 1949, photographic processes may be used wherever reproductions of documents are required.  This would include the reproduction of documents required to be recorded in books, but in our opinion the requirement that the instruments be recorded in well bound books has not been eliminated, nor does chapter 223, Laws of 1949, permit the use of any process in recording that does not comply with the specific requirements for recording such instruments contained in the prior, unrepealed statutes.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General