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Trump ex-lawyer blames AI for bogus citations submitted to judge

By Jake Beardslee · December 29, 2023

In brief…

  • Michael Cohen unknowingly used AI to generate fake legal citations for a court filing
  • The bogus references were submitted by Cohen's lawyer David Schwartz in a motion related to Cohen's supervision
  • Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges related to hush money payments during Trump's 2016 campaign
  • Cohen blames his lack of legal tech knowledge, says he thought Google's Bard was a "super search engine"
  • This marks the second case of AI-generated fake citations submitted in Manhattan federal court
Michael Cohen revealed that he mistakenly provided his lawyer with artificial intelligence-fabricated legal citations that were then submitted in a court filing, the second such AI-related incident in Manhattan federal court this year.

New York City - Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, revealed that he unknowingly used artificial intelligence to generate fake legal citations in a court filing. The bogus references were submitted by Cohen’s current attorney, David Schwartz, in a motion seeking early termination of Cohen’s court supervision after serving over a year in prison, The Associated Press reported.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

In a declaration to the judge, Cohen stated that he found the false citations through Google’s new AI chatbot Bard, believing it was “a super-charged search engine.” As a non-lawyer unfamiliar with emerging legal tech, Cohen claims he was unaware Bard could fabricate convincing but fictional cases. He takes responsibility for providing the faulty references to Schwartz without verifying them first.

Schwartz also attributed the invalid citations to “inadvertence, not any intent to deceive.” This marks the second time this year fake AI-generated citations were submitted in the Manhattan federal court. Two other lawyers were fined $5,000 for citing bogus ChatGPT cases in an unrelated matter.

Cohen maintains he engaged in no misconduct and hopes to avoid punishment for his attorney’s mistake. The judge will decide on potential sanctions.