Michael Cohen gave lawyer fraudulent case citations generated by AI

Michael Cohen gave lawyer fraudulent case citations generated by AI

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Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s ex-fixer and personal lawyer, said in newly unsealed court filings that he accidentally gave his lawyer fake legal citations concocted by the artificial intelligence program Google Bard.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman called three case citations into question earlier this month after they were used in a motion to end Cohen’s supervised release early. Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including tax evasion and campaign finance violations in 2018 and served some time in prison.

Cohen wrote in a sworn declaration unsealed Friday that he has not kept up with “emerging trends (and related risks)” in legal technology and was not aware that Google Bard was a generative text service that, like Chat-GPT, could create citations and descriptions that “looked real but actually were not.” He instead believed the service to be a “supercharged search engine.” 

He also said that as a “non-lawyer,” he trusted his counsel, David Schwartz, to vet any suggestions he made before incorporating them into his filing.

“It did not occur to me then and remains surprising to me now—that Mr. Schwartz would drop the cases into his submission wholesale without even confirming that they existed,” Cohen wrote.

In his order directing Schwartz to produce evidence the cases were real, Furman suggested the lawyer could face sanctions. Cohen defended his lawyer in his declaration, asserting the error was an “honest mistake.”

Cohen’s proclivity to untruths came under harsh scrutiny during his testimony in Trump’s fraud trial and could continue to raise issues as the former president’s other legal matters progress. Cohen is expected to be a star witness in Trump’s New York criminal case.

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