Oath of Office

oath of office Lyndon B Johnson Air Force One 1963Oath of Office

Under Colorado notary law, a notary is authorized to administer an oathaffirmation, or oath of office.  An oath or affirmation is usually administered to a document signer, to certify that the statements written on a document are true and correct.

Then the notary completes a notarial certificate, called a jurat, that is attached to the sworn statement.  An affidavit is a common type of sworn statement.  An oath or affirmation is part of the process for completing a sworn statement.

A notary may administer an oath or affirmation without a document being signed, such as a verbal oath of office for an elected or appointed public official, or an officer of a corporation, LLC, homeowners association (HOA) or other association.  The oath of office, inauguration or installation of officers may be made in a public or private setting.  Public officials such as the President, or Governor, may be sworn into office on live television.

For a business or association, the officers may be elected at an annual meeting and sworn into office at the same meeting or at a later date.  The notary may use language provided by statute for a public official, or provided by the bylaws of a corporation or the operating agreement for an LLC.

Photo credit: Lyndon B. Johnson, on Air Force One, 1963, by Cecil W. Stoughton, John F. Kennedy’s official photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sample Oath of Office, Business

State of Colorado
County of _______________

I, _______________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I will faithfully perform the duties of the office of (Title) of the (business or association name), upon which I am about to enter, in accordance with its governing documents (articles of incorporation, articles or organization, constitution, charter) and (bylaws or operating agreement) and local, state and federal laws, [so help me God].
Signature ________________________________

Subscribed and sworn to, or affirmed, before me on this _______day of
_________________, 20_____.
Notary Public _____________________________________________
[Notary Seal]

Presidential Oath

The Presidential oath is specified in Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By convention, incoming Presidents raise their right hand and place the left hand on a Bible or other book while taking the oath of office.  The closing phrase “So help me God” is not specified in the Constitution, but is usually added.

While the Constitution does not mandate that anyone in particular should administer the oath, the oath is traditionally administered by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  For President Calvin Coolidge, in 1923, the oath of office was administered by his father, John, a notary, at the family home in Vermont.

In 1963, two hours after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes (Northern District of Texas) administered the oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson aboard Air Force One (see photo above), nine minutes before it took off from Love Field airport in Dallas. At the same time, CBS TV news anchor Walter Cronkite announced to the nation that President Kennedy was dead.  In the photo, Jackie Kennedy is still in her blood-soaked clothes, turned away from the camera.

President Johnson refused to use a Dallas notary to be sworn in more promptly. He insisted on waiting until he reached Air Force One, and for a federal judge to arrive to perform the ceremony.

Governor’s Oath

In January 1995, the Governor of South Dakota was sworn into office by a notary.

Colorado, Authority to Administer Oath

All notaries public shall have power to administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses, and to administer all oaths of office and other oaths required to be taken by any person upon any lawful occasion. Colorado law, CRS 24-12-103, State Government Administration.

The Colorado Notaries Public Act, states that every notary public is empowered to administer oaths and affirmations. CRS 12-55-110(1)(b)

Other government officials that have power to administer oaths and affirmations under CRS 24-12-103 include courts, judges, justices, magistrates, referees and court clerks. They may also administer an oath of office, except justices. A few statutes authorize other officials, including hearing officers, members and referees of the division of labor standards and statistics, members of the public utilities commission, and special district officers, to administer oaths and affirmations only in specific cases. The Colorado office of justice of the peace ended in 1962.

In Colorado, 96 cities and towns are self-governing under a home rule charter and local ordinances. In matters of local concern, a home rule municipality has plenary authority. Qwest Corp., 18 P.3d at 754.

The county clerks and recorders of the several counties in the state of Colorado are authorized, within their respective counties, to administer all oaths of office, and other oaths required to be taken by any person upon any lawful occasion, and to take affidavits and depositions concerning any matter or thing, process, or proceeding pending or to be commenced in any court, or any occasion wherein such affidavit or deposition is authorized or required by law to be taken. CRS 30-10-416

Oaths may be taken out of state before a notary public or court clerk. CRS 24-12-107

Notaries public had no common law authority to administer oaths, and their authority must be statutory. Anderson v. Commonwealth, 117 S.W. 364, 1909 Ky, Lexis 497

By the general law merchant, a notary did not have power to administer oaths. Keefer v. Mason, 36 Ill. 406

There is no authority at common law to administer oaths. Midland Steel Co v. Citizens’ Nat. Bank, 34 Ind. App. 107, 72 N. E. 290

During the years of the Territory of Colorado, 1861-1876, the Territorial Secretaries routinely administered oaths of office to elected representatives. However, in 1876, Territorial Secretary John Taffe refused, stating that he could not find any authority empowering him to administer the oath. Cyrus H. McLaughlin, a notary public, administered the oaths.

Colorado Oath of Office, General Assembly

Elected Members of the General Assembly shall take an oath or affirmation administered in the chamber of the house to which the member has been elected. Colorado Constitution Article V, Section 2

Colorado Oath of Office, Executive Officers

Every civil officer, except members of the general assembly and such inferior officers as may be by law exempted, shall, before he enters upon the duties of his office, take and subscribe an oath or affirmation
to support the constitution of the United States and of the state of Colorado, and
to faithfully perform the duties of the office upon which he shall be about to enter.  
Colorado Constitution Article XII, Section 8

Note: the words take and subscribe require the oath to be taken verbally and signed in writing before the authorized officer administering the oath.

See Colorado Oath of Office form.

Any person who has conscientious scruples against taking an oath shall be permitted to make a solemn affirmation or declaration. CRS 24-12-102

The executive department shall include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, and attorney general. Colorado Constitution Article IV, Section 1

The executive oath required by the Colorado Constitution applies only to those elected officials named in Article IV, Section 1.  Appointed officers take the oath and file the bond specified by statute, if any. Jefferson County district court, affirmed by Colorado Supreme Court, Hedstrom v. Motor Vehicle Div., 662 P.2d 173 (Colo. 1983)

Oaths where filed. Officers of the executive department and judges of the supreme and district courts, and district attorneys, shall file their oaths of office with the secretary of state; every other officer shall file his oath of office with the county clerk of the county wherein he shall have been elected.  Colorado Constitution Article XII, Section 9

Colorado Notary Affirmation of Office

Notary applicants are appointed by the Secretary of State and shall take and subscribe an affirmation to faithfully perform all notarial acts in conformance with Colorado notary law. CRS 12-55-105

Colorado Oath of Office, County Officers

Commissioners shall take an oath endorsed on the certificate of election, under the hand and seal of the person administering the oath. CRS 30-10-301
Assessor shall subscribe an oath or affirmation. CRS 30-10-801
Clerk and Recorder shall take and subscribe the oath of office prescribed by law, before some officer authorized to administer oaths, and deposit the same with the official bond to be filed and preserved therewith. CRS 30-10-110
Coroner no oath mentioned in statute CRS 30-10-601, (Civil Officers shall take and subscribe an oath or affirmation. Colorado Constitution Article XII, Section 8) ?
Deputy Coroner Coroner is authorized to appoint one or more deputy coroners, who shall file with the county clerk and recorder the bond and oath of office required by law to be filed by the coroner. CRS 30-10-602
Sheriff shall take and subscribe the oath of office prescribed by law, before some officer authorized to administer oaths, and deposit the same with the official bond to be filed and preserved therewith. CRS 30-10-110
Undersheriff Sheriff shall appoint some proper person undersheriff of said county, who shall also be a general deputy. CRS 30-10-504
Sheriff’s Deputies each sheriff may appoint as many deputies as the sheriff may think proper. CRS 30-10-506
Sheriff’s Deputies shall take and subscribe the like oath of office as that required to be taken by the appointing officer (Sheriff) and shall deposit the same in the office where the oath of such officer is deposited. CRS 30-10-111
Surveyor no oath mentioned in statute CRS 30-10-901. See CRS 38-44-105. (Civil Officers shall take and subscribe an oath or affirmation. Colorado Constitution Article XII, Section 8) ?
Surveyor’s Deputies county surveyors shall have the authority to administer an oath or affirmation to deputies and assistants acting under them. CRS 30-10-907
Treasurer shall take and subscribe the oath of office prescribed by law, before some officer authorized to administer oaths, and deposit the same with the official bond to be filed and preserved therewith. CRS 30-10-110

Colorado Oath of Office, Municipal Officers

Municipal Officers elected or appointed in any municipality shall take an oath or affirmation, administered by the municipal judge, clerk, or other person who is designated by the governing body or who is authorized by law to administer oaths. CRS 31-4-401

Municipal election judges must take a specialized oath or affirmation of office and may administer it to other election judges. CRS 31-10-407

Colorado Springs, Oaths, All Officers: Every legislative, executive, and administrative officer of the City and all other employees required by law shall, before they enter upon the duties of their office, take, subscribe, and file with the Clerk an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado, and the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs, and to faithfully perform the duties of the office upon which they shall be about to enter. Colorado Springs City Charter 13-30

Colorado Springs, Oaths, Administrative Officers: Before entering into the duties of the office, the administrative officers of the City, and all other employees required by law, shall take an oath or affirmation of office, administered by the Mayor or the Mayor’s designee, to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado, and the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs, and faithfully to perform the duties of the office upon which they are about to enter. The oath or affirmation of office shall be subscribed and filed with the City Clerk. Colorado Springs City Code 1.2.202

Colorado Springs, Oaths, Police: Upon issuance of a State of Colorado POST certification, each officer of the Police Department shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado and the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs, and to faithfully perform the duties and assignments of an officer of the Police Department. Colorado Springs City Code 8.1.202

Colorado Springs, Oaths, Fire: Upon the successful completion of the required course of training at the Colorado Springs Fire Training Academy, each officer of the Fire Department shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado and the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs, and to faithfully perform the duties and assignments of an officer of the Fire Department. Colorado Springs City Code 8.2.106

Colorado Springs, Oaths, Court: Before entering upon the duties of office, each employee of the court shall take and subscribe an oath, before a Municipal Judge, that the employee will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado and the Charter and ordinances of the City and will faithfully perform the duties of the employee’s office. Colorado Springs City Code 11.1.105

Colorado Springs, Oaths, Municipal Judge: Before entering upon the duties of office, each Municipal Judge shall take and subscribe before the Mayor and file with the City Clerk, an oath and affirmation that the Judge will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado and the Charter and ordinances of the City, and that the Judge will faithfully perform the duties of the office.  Colorado Springs City Code 11.2.104

Colorado Springs, Oaths, Presiding Judge: The Presiding Judge shall have the power to administer oaths to elected municipal officials and others as authorized by law. Colorado Springs City Code 11.2.103

Colorado Oath of Office, Special District Directors

Special District. Each elected or appointed director, except for good cause shown, shall appear before an officer authorized to administer oaths and take an oath The oath may be administered by the county clerk, court clerk, any person authorized to administer oaths in this state, or by the chairman of the board. CRS 32-1-901

Conservancy District. Each director shall take and subscribe to an oath before an officer authorized to administer oaths. CRS 37-3-102

The venue for a district includes: State of Colorado, County of [county name], and the name of the district.

County Officers, When Office Becomes Vacant

Every county office shall become vacant, on the happening of any one of the following events, before the expiration of the term of office: The incumbent’s refusal or neglect to take his oath of office, to give or renew his official bond, or to deposit such oath and bond within the time prescribed by law. CRS 30-10-105(1)(e)

Exemption from Taking Constitutional Oath

The Constitution expressly leaves it in the discretion of the legislature to exempt “inferior officers” from taking the prescribed oath of office. Exemption from the constitutional provisions requiring an oath may be not only express, but may be gathered from the evident intention of the law makers.

Where, by the law, there appears a manifestation of the intention of the legislature that an inferior officer should not be required to take an oath of office, there is, in our opinion, a sufficient exemption by law from taking the oath of office within the intent of the constitutional provision. School Directors v. People, 79 Ill. 511; Mills, American Notary Manual, section 99, 1904; Mechem, Treatise on Law of Public Offices 257, 1890

Unauthorized Oath of Office, Void Act

Persons who are not notaries or other authorized officials should not administer oaths or affirmations if they are not authorized by law. Authorized officials should not administer oaths or affirmations for a spouse, partner or relative.

Corporations, LLCs, HOAs and associations may wish to establish a relationship with a notary to administer the oath of office to elected directors and officers and to notarize records such as minutes of meetings, a Certificate of Incumbency listing the current officers, contracts, leases, financial statements, employment applications and business record affidavits.

No one can doubt, that an oath administered by a person without authority is a void act. It imposes no legal obligation on the person swearing to state the truth, nor is he punishable under any law, for swearing falsely in such a case. United States v. Bailey 34 U.S. (9 Pet.) 238, 257. (1835), U.S. Supreme Court Justice McLean dissenting.

An oath cannot be administered unless authorized by the common law, or by some act of parliament. Sir Edward Coke (Lord Coke), 3 Inst. 165 (1644) Institutes of the Laws of England, London

Alabama: There is no provision in the state constitution or statutes for a sheriff to administer an oath of office. Conclusion: A sheriff is not authorized to administer an oath of office to his deputies. Attorney General Opinion 96-203, Jeff Sessions, Attorney General.

Illinois: A sheriff, in addition to any other person authorized by law, may administer the oath of office required of a deputy sheriff. 55 ILCS 5/3-6010

New Jersey: All oaths and affirmations may be made and taken before a sheriff of any county. NJ Rev Stat 41:2-1

Uniform Constitutional Oath

[Pending] Proposed 2018 legislation HB18-1138 recommends revising CRS 24-12-101. Form of Oath or Affirmation for Public Office, to harmonize all oaths of office found in various Colorado statutes to be uniform with the following wording:

I [name], do [select swear or affirm] that I will support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado, and the laws of the State of Colorado, and will faithfully perform the duties of the office of [name of office or position] upon which I am about to enter to the best of my ability.

Disclaimer: This information is not legal advice. For legal advice, contact an attorney.

Visit our website for Colorado Springs Mobile Notary services or Colorado Notary Training classes.

[Last-Modified Date 2018-01-07] added list of oath statutes for Colorado officials

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