History of Deceit

Deceit and fraud by attorneys is injustice.When I started my research I discovered more about attorney fraud and deceit than one would believe.

This section will provide an insight to the fraud, deceit and misconduct, by attorneys have had on the courts and in particular the NYS courts.

I will cite a very impressive and noted case upheld in the New York Courts and provide details to the law as referenced. Finally I’ve provided present day NYS law and the oath all attorneys take as part of the Bar admittance.

Deceit Statutes Background as a foundation, the First Statute of Westminster in 1275, Chapter 29 stated;

“It is provided also, that 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 he be no pleader, he shall be imprisoned in like manner by the space of a year and a Day at least; and if the trespass require greater punishment, it shall be at the king’s pleasure.”

Referring to Chapter 29 as one of several chapters of the Statute of Westminster devoted to the problem of misconduct occurring during the judicial process; the “chapters were directed at abuses that impacted the operation of the judicial system” including “champerty, extortion, bribery, abuse of official power, maintenance, and abusive litigation practices by royal and court officials, lawyers, and individual litigants.” See Jonathan Rose, The Legal Profession in Medieval England: A History of Regulation, 48 Syracuse L. Rev. 1, (1998). (Id. at 53)

According to Rose regarding “deceit and collusion” (Id. at 58) that such phrase was given an expansive interpretation and accordingly he wrote:

“[T]he cases involved a wide range of lawyer misconduct. The covered conduct included forgery of writs; altering, damaging or removing official documents; conflict of interest and other breaches of client loyalty; false statements to the court, the client, the opponent, and in pleadings and other documents; acting as an attorney without proper authority, or continuing to act after removal; failing to act or premature termination of representation; antagonizing judges by unconvincing arguments, overzealousness, or not speaking in good faith; defective pleadings and documents; unjustified initiation or continuation of litigation, and repleading issues; and misconduct in the lawyer’s own litigation or business dealings.” (Id. at 61)

Chapter 29 was not limited to fraud upon an opposing party, but to instances of fraud upon the court, such as making false statements in pleadings. (Id. at 59)