Michael Cohen admits to inadvertently citing fake cases generated by AI in legal motion

Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s onetime fixer and lawyer, admitted in a filing unsealed Friday that he inadvertently gave his lawyer fake legal case citations generated by artificial intelligence in connection with a motion to end his supervised release early. 

U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman previously called the citations into question, writing earlier this month, “In the letter brief, Mr. Cohen asserts that, “[a]s recently as 2022, there have been District Court decisions, affirmed by the Second Circuit Court, granting early termination of supervised release.” 

Furman added, “As far as the Court can tell, none of these cases exist.”

Cohen said in his sworn declaration released Friday that he had found the phony citations through Google Bard, an AI service that he said he thought was a “supercharged” search engine. 

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Michael Cohen admitted to inadvertently citing fake legal cases in a motion to end his early release in a sworn declaration released Friday. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah/File)

“As a non-lawyer, I have not kept up with emerging trends (and related risks) in legal technology and did not realize that Google Bard was a generative text service that, like Chat-GPT, could show citations and descriptions that looked real but actually were not,” Cohen said. “Instead, I understood it to be a super-charged search engine and had repeatedly used it in other contexts to (successfully) find accurate information online.”

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In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance charges and lying to Congress, spending more than a year in prison before he was put on supervised release. He was also disbarred as a lawyer. 

“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,” he added, citing his lawyer David Schwartz. “I deeply regret any problems Mr. Schwartz’s filing may have caused.” 

He said Schwartz’s alleged mistake was “a product of inadvertence, not any intent to deceive.”

E. Danya Perry, who represents Cohen and discovered the citations were fake, told the judge, “Mr. Cohen engaged in no misconduct and should not suffer any collateral damage from Mr. Schwartz’s misstep.”

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In an unrelated case earlier this month, two lawyers were fined $5,000 for citing fake cases generated by AI. 

Perry told Fox News Digital in a statement: “These filings—and the fact that he was willing to unseal them—show that Mr. Cohen did absolutely nothing wrong. He relied on his lawyer, as he had every right to do. Unfortunately, his lawyer appears to have made an honest mistake in not verifying the citations in the brief he drafted and filed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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