The history to deceit statures which became the foundation of the laws in the U.S., traces back to the 13th Century in England and eventually found its way to the New York State Judicial System in 1778.
In 1275, King Edward I, also known as “Edward Longshanks”, the son of Henry III, had a significant ongoing concern to the regulation of lawyers and the control of crime within its legal system. As a persistent problem of serious crime, and a strong and determined monarch, which was both physically “impressive” with a known “violent temper”, the monarch’s substantial concerns about lawyer misconduct was evidenced by the enactment of the First Statute of Westminster, Chapter 29 (Fraud Act of 1275) which stated;
“… if any serjeant, pleader, or other, do any manner of deceit or collusion in the king’s court, or consent unto it, in deceit of the court, or to beguile the court, or the party, and thereof be attainted, he shall be imprisoned for a year and a day, and from thenceforth shall not be heard to plead in that court for any man and … if the trespass require greater punishment, it shall be at the king’s pleasure.”
This law written over 800 years ago, categorized the Serjeant’s-at-Law as an elite group of lawyers in central common law courts, and who along with other pleaders, were common in the practice of deceit and misrepresentation to the court. King Edward, in opposing punishment for deceit, banned them for life.
One might hypothesize, based on King Edward mindset, that in todays legal system, we might well have the ingredients for restrictions on the use of defense lawyers in the workers’ compensation system initiated by the presentment for serious crimes of deceit, misrepresentation and fraud. As this Blog may suggest, we seem to be on that path. New York and in many others states, this type of behavior by attorneys is addressed by legislative statutes. In New York, this statute falls within the consolidated Law, JUD Article 15, section 487.