Michael Cohen, Trump’s Ex-Attorney, unknowingly sent fake legal cases generated by Bard AI to his attorney

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, unknowingly used AI-generated legal case citations in a court motion, seeking to end his supervision. He claims ignorance and blames his lawyer, David Schwartz, for failing to verify the citations. Schwartz believed another attorney, E. Danya Perry, had reviewed the drafts.

Michael Cohen attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023 (Image: Mike Segar/Reuters)
Michael Cohen attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023 (Image: Mike Segar/Reuters)

The Unsettling Intersection of AI and Legal Missteps: Michael Cohen’s Case Raises Concerns

In a shocking revelation, Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, recently confessed to unwittingly incorporating fabricated artificial intelligence-generated legal case citations in a court motion. The startling admission came to light after a judge raised questions about non-existent court rulings being cited on Cohen’s behalf. This incident has raised concerns about the potential misuse of AI in the legal field and has implications for Cohen’s ongoing legal battles. This article delves into the details of the scandal, exploring the role of AI, the responsibilities of legal professionals, and the broader implications for the justice system.

The AI-Generated Citations

The controversy emerged when Judge Jesse Furman sought an explanation for the inclusion of fabricated legal case citations in a motion aimed at terminating Cohen’s court supervision. Michael Cohen, who had served over a year in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance charges, and lying to Congress, claimed that he obtained the citations through online research using Google Bard. The AI-generated cases were part of attorney David M. Schwartz’s written arguments to expedite the end of Cohen’s court supervision.

Cohen’s Admission and Explanation

In a court filing unsealed on Friday, Michael Cohen asserted that as a non-lawyer, he was unaware of the risks associated with legal technology, specifically Google Bard, a generative text service. He argued that he perceived it as a powerful search engine and was oblivious to its potential to create fictitious citations. Michael Cohen, disbarred five years ago, emphasized his reliance on the internet for research due to restricted access to formal legal-research sources. This raises questions about the adequacy of legal professionals’ awareness and understanding of emerging technologies within their field.

Google Bard vs. ChatGPT: A Growing Trend in Legal Technology

Google Bard, introduced earlier this year as a response to Microsoft’s ChatGPT integrated into the Bing search engine, is designed to generate text swiftly based on user prompts. However, both tools have exhibited a tendency to produce inaccurate or fictional information, colloquially referred to as “hallucinations.” This raises concerns about the potential misuse of such AI tools in legal proceedings, as highlighted by Cohen’s case.

Cohen’s Blame Game: Attorney David M. Schwartz

Michael Cohen placed the blame squarely on his attorney and longtime friend, David M. Schwartz, for failing to verify the validity of the AI-generated citations before submitting them to the judge. However, Cohen requested leniency for Schwartz, characterizing the oversight as an “honest mistake” and attributing it to inadvertence rather than an intent to deceive. This raises questions about the responsibility of attorneys in ensuring the accuracy of the information presented in legal documents.

Schwartz’s Defense and the Role of E. Danya Perry

In his defense, Schwartz claimed that he believed drafts of the papers were reviewed by E. Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor representing Cohen. Perry, however, disputed Schwartz’s assertion, stating that she had no involvement in the back-and-forth communication with Schwartz or his paralegal. This discrepancy in communication and review processes within the legal team further highlights the need for stringent oversight and collaboration to prevent the submission of inaccurate information.

Legal Ramifications and Precedent

The judge, while addressing possible sanctions, noted that this was the second instance in the year where a judge in Manhattan federal court encountered lawyers citing fake cases generated by artificial intelligence. In an unrelated case, two lawyers were fined $5,000 for referencing bogus cases created by ChatGPT. This raises concerns about the potential misuse of AI in the legal profession and the need for the legal system to adapt to the challenges posed by emerging technologies.

Michael Cohen’s Past and Ongoing Legal Battles

Michael Cohen’s guilty plea in 2018 did not explicitly mention the names of the two women who received hush money or directly implicate Trump. Instead, Michael Cohen referred to an “unnamed candidate” with whom he collaborated to influence the 2016 election. The recent developments in Cohen’s case add another layer to the complex legal battles surrounding Trump, who himself faces multiple charges in New York state court related to falsifying business records to conceal his involvement in the hush money payments.

The Broader Implications of AI in the Legal Sphere

The AI-generated legal citations scandal involving Michael Cohen sheds light on the evolving challenges within the legal profession as it grapples with the integration of artificial intelligence into legal research. This incident underscores the importance of legal professionals staying informed about the risks and limitations of emerging technologies. It also raises questions about the accountability of attorneys in ensuring the accuracy of the information presented to the courts. As the legal system adapts to the digital age, it must establish guidelines and safeguards to prevent the misuse of AI and uphold the integrity of legal proceedings.

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Source(s): AP News

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