The Risks of AI-Generated Court Cases: A Critical Examination

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in various fields has been on the rise, with its potential to streamline processes and provide valuable insights. However, recent incidents have highlighted the dangers and risks associated with relying on AI-generated content without proper verification. One such case involves Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for Donald Trump, who admitted to citing fake, AI-generated court cases in a legal document that landed in front of a federal judge.

In a surprising turn of events, it was revealed that Cohen used Google Bard, an AI chatbot, thinking it was a “super-charged search engine” for legal research. The mistaken belief led him to unknowingly include non-existent court cases in his motion to shorten his probation period. US District Judge Jesse Furman, upon reviewing the document, exposed the falsity of these alleged cases and questioned Cohen’s lawyer, David Schwartz, about his involvement in their inclusion.

Cohen, in response to the court’s inquiry, submitted a written statement claiming he did not intend to mislead the court. He argued that he was unaware of the potential for AI-generated content to be fake and assumed that Schwartz would have verified the citations before incorporating them into the motion. Cohen admitted to using Google Bard for legal research and sharing some findings with Schwartz but stated that he hadn’t realized the possibility of fake citations.

Cohen’s defense raises crucial questions about the responsibility of legal professionals to stay informed about emerging technologies and associated risks. As a non-lawyer, Cohen argued that he had not kept up with the trends in legal technology and was unaware of Google Bard’s true capabilities. This incident not only highlights the need for continuous education among legal practitioners but also calls into question the general awareness of AI’s capabilities outside the legal field.

Interestingly, this is not the first instance where AI-generated citations have appeared in court. Earlier this year, two New York lawyers faced sanctions and fines for including bogus court cases generated by ChatGPT in a legal brief. These incidents serve as stark reminders that the unchecked use of AI-generated content can lead to severe consequences, undermining the integrity of the legal system.

The Cohen case and similar incidents underscore the importance of caution and proper verification when utilizing AI technologies in legal proceedings. While AI can undoubtedly offer valuable support in legal research and argument drafting, it must be complemented by rigorous fact-checking and human oversight to mitigate the risks of incorrect or fabricated information. Legal professionals must be diligent in ensuring the accuracy and authenticity of AI-generated content before presenting it before the court.

The revelation of AI-generated court cases being submitted to federal judges by Michael Cohen sheds light on the potential pitfalls of relying solely on AI technology without proper oversight and verification. This episode underscores the vital need for legal professionals to stay informed about emerging technologies, such as AI chatbots. Additionally, it serves as a wake-up call for the legal community to implement rigorous fact-checking methodologies to prevent the inclusion of fake citations in legal documents. The integration of AI in the legal field holds promise, but as this case illustrates, it is crucial to balance its benefits with responsible usage to maintain the integrity and credibility of our legal system.


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