Michael Cohen’s lawyer cited three fake cases in possible AI-fueled screwup

Key Takeaways:

– A lawyer representing Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, filed a court brief that cited three nonexistent cases.
– It is not confirmed whether the lawyer used an AI tool, similar to a previous incident where lawyers submitted fake citations from ChatGPT.
– The judge ordered the lawyer to provide copies of the cited decisions and explain how the motion came to cite nonexistent cases.
– Cohen’s new lawyer could not verify the cited cases either.
– This may be another case of lawyers citing fake cases generated by an AI tool, as seen in a previous incident.
– Some courts have imposed rules on AI-generated submissions, requiring human verification.

Ars Technica:

Enlarge / Picture of attorney David Schwartz from his website.

A lawyer representing Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen filed a court brief that cited three cases that do not exist, according to a federal judge. The incident is similar to a recent one in which lawyers submitted fake citations originally provided by ChatGPT, but it hasn’t yet been confirmed whether Cohen’s lawyer also used an AI tool.

“On November 29, 2023, David M. Schwartz, counsel of record for Defendant Michael Cohen, filed a motion for early termination of supervised release,” US District Judge Jesse Furman wrote in an order to show cause yesterday. “In the letter brief, Mr. Cohen asserts that, ‘[a]s recently as 2022, there have been District Court decisions, affirmed by the Second Circuit Court, granting early termination of supervised release.'”

Schwartz’s letter brief named “three such examples,” citing United States v. Figueroa-Florez, United States v. Ortiz, and United States v. Amato. The brief provided case numbers, summaries, and ruling dates, but Furman concluded that the cases are fake.

“As far as the Court can tell, none of these cases exist,” Furman wrote. Furman, a judge in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, ordered Schwartz to provide copies of the three cited decisions by December 19.

“If he is unable to do so, Mr. Schwartz shall, by the same date, show cause in writing why he should not be sanctioned pursuant to (1) Rule 11(b)(2) & (c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (2) 28 U.S.C. § 1927, and (3) the inherent power of the Court for citing non-existent cases to the Court,” Furman wrote.

Assuming he can’t turn up those cases, Schwartz must also provide “a thorough explanation of how the motion came to cite cases that do not exist and what role, if any, Mr. Cohen played in drafting or reviewing the motion before it was filed.”

Cohen’s new lawyer couldn’t verify citations

Schwartz advertises his criminal defense services on a personal website with a tagline that says, “The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law.”

We contacted Schwartz today and will update this article if we get a response. A Politico reporter called Cohen yesterday but reported that “Cohen hung up the phone” when asked for comment.

In a footnote on his order, Furman notes that the court “is apparently not alone in being unable to find these cases.” On December 6, attorney E. Danya Perry notified the court that she would be representing Cohen. On December 9, Perry wrote to support the motion for terminating supervised release but acknowledged that she could not verify the cases cited by Schwartz.

“While several cases were cited in the initial Motion filed by different counsel, undersigned counsel was not engaged at that time and must inform the Court that it has been unable to verify those citations,” Perry wrote.

This may be another instance of a lawyer citing fake cases hallucinated by an artificial intelligence tool. In May, a federal judge in the same District Court imposed a $5,000 fine on two lawyers and their law firm after they admitted to using ChatGPT to help write court filings that cited six nonexistent cases invented by the AI chatbot. The lawyers also had to write letters to the six real judges who were “falsely identified as the author of the fake” opinions cited in their legal filings.

In Texas, one federal judge imposed a rule banning submissions written by artificial intelligence unless the AI’s output is checked by a human. In another federal court in the District of Columbia, convicted rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel argued that he should get a new trial because his lawyer “used an experimental AI program to write” a “frivolous and ineffectual closing argument.”

Source link

AI Eclipse TLDR:

Attorney David Schwartz, who represents Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, has been accused by a federal judge of filing a court brief that cites three non-existent cases. This incident is reminiscent of a recent case in which lawyers used fake citations generated by an AI tool. In his motion for early termination of supervised release, Schwartz claimed that there have been District Court decisions granting such termination as recently as 2022. He named three examples, complete with case numbers, summaries, and ruling dates. However, the judge concluded that these cases are fake and ordered Schwartz to provide copies of the cited decisions by December 19. If he fails to do so, Schwartz will have to provide an explanation for citing non-existent cases and potentially face sanctions. Cohen’s new lawyer, E. Danya Perry, also stated that she could not verify the cases mentioned by Schwartz. This situation raises the question of whether Schwartz used an AI tool to generate the fake citations. In a previous case, lawyers were fined for using an AI chatbot to create court filings that cited non-existent cases. The judge in that case imposed a rule in Texas, banning AI-generated submissions without human verification. Another federal court saw a defendant argue for a new trial because his lawyer used an experimental AI program to write an ineffective closing argument.