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Historic Electronic Recording

Articles from The Massachusetts Focus

Newsletter of Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Massachusetts Offices
Summer 2004, Volume 3, Number 3

Historic Electronic Recording
by Donald E. Ashe, Register, Hampden County Registry of Deeds

The Hampden County Registry of Deeds, Stewart Title Guaranty Company, and Western New England College School of Law sponsored an informational seminar that conducted the first electronic recording of a real estate document in the northeast region of the country. Approximately 130 attorneys, bankers, elected officials, and realtors attended the morning seminar.

As Register of the Hampden County Register of Deeds, I opened the seminar and commented on the utilization of advanced technology as a major component of today's operation at the Registry of Deeds. I also appropriately acknowledged William F. Galvin, the Secretary of State, for his foresight and assistance in maintaining a user-friendly electronic access to the Registry's database. Arthur R. Gaudio, Dean of the Western New England College School of Law, also participated in the seminar and commented on the legal hurdles and challenges that must be addressed before a full application of a digital recording system can be implemented in Massachusetts. Michael J. Agen Esq., Branch Manager and Counsel for Stewart Title Guaranty Company, reviewed the practical application and benefits to real estate professionals of an electronic recording process.

The actual electronic recording of a mortgage discharge was conducted by Mark Reynolds of SimpliFile, Cliff Brown of Browntech, and Greg Rogers and Kelly Cavanaugh Kelly from the Hampden County Registry of Deeds. The mortgage discharge was from the Mortgage Electronic Recording System (MERS) with Laurinda Clemente, the Northeastern Regional Director, in attendance. Kevin M. Cuff, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association, was also in attendance and met with the seminar presenters.

The informational seminar was well attended by members of the real estate industry and widely covered by the media. The success of the seminar is an example of how a public organization, the Hampden County Registry of Deeds, and the private sector, Stewart Title Guaranty Company, can come together to provide the public with new and useful technology that will eventually save money and improve efficiency.

I believe the Hampden County Registry of Deeds is considered one of the most efficient and technologically advanced Registries in the state, and I think the seminar was one more step in the information sharing process that will eventually lead to a paperless society. Government needs to develop a new way of doing business. New technology will help public organizations move from a fixed infrastructure to virtual government and from a traditional bureaucratic process to a customer friendly environment.

Dean Art Gaudio, who has contributed an article that appears in this edition of The Massachusetts Focus, was also present at the historic electronic recording event. Art is completing his third year as Dean of Western New England College School of Law. He is a Northeasterner — grew up in Syracuse, NY, graduated with high honors from Syracuse Law School, and then practiced real estate law with a large firm in New York City for several years.

Art has been teaching and writing about property law for over 25 years, first at Drake Law School in Iowa, then at Wake Forest, Wyoming and Indiana, and now at WNEC. He has been involved in law school administration at several schools and nationally. He was Associate Dean at Wake Forest, Dean at Wyoming and WNEC. He served for two years as Deputy Consultant on Legal Education for the ABA.

He is the author of a treatise on real estate brokerage law and many articles on different aspects of property law. He is a member of ACREL, the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. He's a genuine real estate lawyer and a well qualified candidate to participate in the seminar.

He has been working on electronic recording for over seven years. He started working with the Iowa legislature and Iowa Bar Association to draft an electronic recording statute in 1998. He is serving on the drafting committee in Connecticut, developing their electronic recording law. At the national level, in 2002 he was appointed to serve as the Reporter for the Uniform Electronic Recording Act for the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws (http://www.nccusl.org). Through his efforts, that group recently produced a draft uniform act, which the national body is expected to adopt shortly.

Art has been dedicated to creating the legal infrastructure necessary and appropriate for electronic recording. There is no one in the country who knows more about this topic, or has worked harder to move it forward, than Art Gaudio, and I am proud to know him and happy that he was able to be involved in the seminar with me and the other participants.

Donald E. Ashe is a visionary and has been the Register of Hampden County since 1982. Over the last several years he has brought the Registry into the 21st century by implementing new technologies such as image scanning, fax on demand for documents and index lists, optical disk storage and a streamlined document recording process.

He is a graduate of Cathedral High School, Cornwall Academy and the University of Massachusetts Institute of Government Services. He also holds a certificate from the Lee Institute of Real Estate and a licensed real estate broker, a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner to Qualify, Notary Public and served as Assistant Recorder of the Land Court Division for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Chief Justice Marilyn Sullivan.