Government entities and the courts are often required to make the public aware of key decisions, meetings or events. New corporations may also be required to publish a notice of incorporation. The vehicle for these announcement is typically an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation, though websites may be used in rare instances. A publisher's affidavit is a sworn statement that a legal notice was placed in a newspaper. The requirements for what is contained in a publishers affidavit vary from state to state, but share some general similarities.
Legal notices are usually found in the classified section of a local newspaper. Some are routine. For example, some municipalities have requirements stating that every contract over $10,000 must be put out for competitive bidding. In those places, where a government might buy something as mundane as rock salt, they must place an ad in the newspaper notifying prospective dealers that the government is interested in the purchase. The notices can be more unusual. Some federal environmental regulations, for example, have public notice provisions. It is important to note that a news article, written by a journalist, may not be sufficient notice to the public.
Proof of Publication
The publisher's affidavit is proof that a legal notice appeared in the newspaper. Because a decision may be overturned if it is proven that adequate notice wasn't given to affected parties, proof of publication is important to decision-makers.The text of the advertisement sometimes accompanies the affidavit.
Most states require that legal notices be placed in newspapers of general circulation and distributed in the area affected by a decision, or as close as possible, if no newspaper is published there. This prevents advertisements for controversial decisions from appearing in obscure journals or newspapers, far away from the affected parties.
The publisher is the CEO of a newspaper. At large newspapers, these executives may be very busy. Many states allow employees farther down the totem pole to sign the affidavits.
Date of Publication, Duration and Signatures
Because many states require legal notices to be placed several days before a decision is made, the affidavit usually included the date or dates that an advertisement ran. The affidavit is typically signed. A notary may also sign the document.
Philadelphia-based freelancer Pat Kelley has been writing since 2002, most recently for Scripps Texas Newspapers. He has won numerous awards for reporting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science.