Michael Cohen used fake cases cited by AI to end court supervision
Former President Donald J. Trump's onetime fixer Michael D. Cohen said in court papers unsealed Friday that he accidentally gave his lawyer fake legal citations generated by the artificial intelligence program Google Bard.
The fictional quotes were used in a motion submitted by Mr. Cohen's lawyers to a federal judge, Jesse M. Furman. Mr Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 and spent time in prison, had asked the judge to end court supervision of his case early, now that he is out of prison and meeting the conditions of his release. Have followed. ,
In a sworn declaration made public on Friday, Mr Cohen explained that he had not taken into account emerging trends (and the associated risks) in legal technology and that he did not realize that Google Bard is a generative text service, which Chat can appear like GPT. “Quotes and descriptions that seemed real but actually weren’t.”
He also said he did not realize that the attorney who filed the motion on his behalf, David M. Schwartz, “would submit cases in bulk without even confirming their existence.”
The episode – the second this year in which Manhattan federal court lawyers have cited fraudulent verdicts created by artificial intelligence – could have an impact on the Manhattan criminal case against Mr Trump in which Mr Cohen is expected to be a key witness. . Lawyers for the former president have long attacked Mr. Cohen as a serial liar; Now, they say they have a brand new example.
In his own declaration, Mr. Schwartz acknowledged using the three quotes in question and said he had not independently reviewed the cases because Mr. Cohen indicated that another lawyer, E. Denia Perry, Were giving suggestions for the proposal.
“I sincerely apologize to the court for not personally investigating these matters before presenting them to the court,” Mr. Schwartz wrote.
Ms. Perry has said that she began representing Mr. Cohen after Mr. Schwartz filed the motion. She wrote to Judge Furman on December 8 that after reading the previously filed document, she could not verify the case law being cited. In a statement at the time, he said that “consistent with my ethical obligation of candor to the Court, I advised Judge Furman on this issue.”
He said in a letter made public on Friday that Mr Cohen, a former lawyer who has been disbarred, “did not know that the cases he identified were not real and, unlike his lawyer, did not have such a strong say in them.” There was no obligation to verify.”
“It must be emphasized that Mr. Cohen was not involved in any misconduct,” Ms. Perry wrote. He said Friday that Mr. Cohen had no comment, and that he had agreed to unseal the court papers after the judge raised questions about whether they included information protected by attorney-client privilege.
The confusion began when Judge Furman said in an order on December 12 that he could not find any of the three rulings. He ordered Mr. Schwartz to provide copies or “a detailed explanation of how the motion came to cite cases that do not exist and what role, if any, Mr. Cohen played.”
The case, which is scheduled to go to trial on March 25, could have significant implications given Mr. Cohen's key role in the case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney.
District Attorney, Alvin L. Bragg accused Mr Trump of organizing a secret money scheme, centered on payments made by Mr Cohen to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film star, during the 2016 election. Mr Trump has pleaded innocent to 34 felony charges.
Seeking to rebut claims from Mr Trump's lawyers that Mr Cohen is untrustworthy, his defenders have said Mr Cohen lied on Mr Trump's behalf, but his separation from the former president in 2018 and federal charges He has told the truth since pleading guilty. ,
Mr Trump's lawyers quickly acknowledged the Google Bard revelation on Friday. The lawyer representing Mr Trump in the upcoming Manhattan trial, Susan R. Nechels said it was “typical Michael Cohen”.
“The DA’s office should not be bringing a case on that,” Ms. Nechels said. “He has admitted to perjury and has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies and this is an additional indication of his lack of character and ongoing criminality.”
Ms. Perry, the lawyer who is now representing Mr. Cohen on the motion, rejected that claim.
“These filings – and the fact that he was willing to open them – show that Mr. Cohen did nothing wrong,” she said. “He trusted his lawyer, because he had every right to do so. Unfortunately, it appears that his lawyer made an honest mistake by not verifying the quotes in the brief he prepared and filed.
A spokesman for Mr. Bragg declined to comment on Friday.
Prosecutors may argue that Mr. Cohen's actions were not intended to deceive the court but, by his own admission, were a terrible misunderstanding of the new technology.
The non-existent cases cited in Mr. Schwartz's motion – United States v. Figueroa-Flores, United States v. Ortiz and United States v. Amato – came with corresponding summaries and notations that they had been affirmed by a U.S. Court of Appeals for the second Went. Circuit. It becomes clear that they were hallucinations created by the chatbot, taking bits and pieces of real cases and combining them with robotic imagination.
Judge Furman said in his December 12 order that the Figueroa-Flores quote actually refers to a page from a decision that “has nothing to do with supervised release.”
The Amato case named in the motion actually concerns a decision by an administrative tribunal, the Board of Veterans Appeals, the judge said.
And the quote from the Ortiz case, Judge Furman wrote, “does not match anything.”
William K. Rashbaum Contributed to the reporting.