New York courts have always looked to its judicial and legislative history to interpret and apply statues. In the recent case of Amalfitano v. Rosenberg, the Court of Appeals went all the way back to medieval times to review a statute to determine whether a New York law that provides for treble damages to be awarded when an attorney intends to deceive a court requires the court to actually be deceived. The Court said no.
The law in question, Judiciary Law 487, permits treble damages when an attorney is guilty of deceit. The attorney argued that, like common law fraud, the court had to be deceived. The Court of Appeals traced the history of the law to the first Statute of Westminster, adopted by the Parliament in 1275, and adopted by the New York Legislature in 1787. That statute did not require actual deceit, but only the intent to deceive, for treble damage to be awarded.