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Where You Should Never Sign Anything in Green Ink, Why You Should Never Sign Anything Anywhere in Black Ink and What The Difference is Between a Parcel ID and a Folio Number

1/12/2017 | Articles & Alerts

As Charlie Cowell (the anvil salesman in the 1962 film version of The Music Man) famously said, “you gotta know the territory.”  Our Commonwealth[1] has 67 counties, and each seems to have its own peculiar set of customs.  The best lawyer in the universe isn’t worth a nickel if she can’t get her papers past the court clerk[2] and onto the judge’s desk.

At Kaplin Stewart, our lawyers know things that would get regular folks thrown out of nice cocktail parties.  But that’s what it takes to be an effective commercial lawyer in more than one county.

So, where is green ink verboten?  Lebanon County.  I used it; they accepted it, but I got a rather stern note back saying “please do not sign in green.”  Ouch. 

What’s wrong with black ink?  In at least one county, they “test” submissions for original ink signatures by licking them.  If the ink doesn’t run, it’s a copy.  Yuck.

And, Delaware County doesn’t have Parcel IDs.  They have “Folio Numbers”.  Say “Parcel ID” and you’ll get run out of town on the Media Local.  And, they’ll instantly know that “you aren’t from around here”[3].

[1]               A “commonwealth” is exactly the same as a “state”.  It just sounds more important.  There are four commonwealths in the United States.  Pennsylvania is one of them.  Can you name the other three?

[2]               The court clerk is called a “prothonotary” in most counties, but in others is a “civil clerk”, a “clerk of judicial records”, or even a “director of the office of court records”.  With an apparently straight face, Pennsylvania has named this modern-day Byzantine empire the “Unified Judicial System.”

[3]               The four commonwealths in the United States are Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and … Kentucky.  This is a great bar bet.