The ChatGPT artificial intelligence engine has been making headlines since its launch. It has been used to complete assignments, such as writing work emails with specific tone, style, and instructions. In a strange case, a lawyer from New York is facing trial after his firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman used AI tools for legal research, according to a report in BBC. This came to light after several hypothetical legal cases were used as examples. Noticing the same thing, the judge commented that the situation put the court in an “unprecedented situation”. However, the lawyer told the court he was “not aware that its contents could be false”.
Originally, the case was about a man who sued an airline for what he considered personal injury. His legal team filed a summary citing several previous lawsuits in an effort to establish, through precedent, why the case should proceed. However, the airline’s lawyers later informed the judge in a letter that they were unable to identify some of the examples cited in the summary.
Judge Castel then wrote to the man’s legal team asking for an explanation. He said, “Six of the cases filed appear to be bogus judicial decisions with bogus citations and bogus insider citations.” Later, it was reported that the research was not done by the man’s attorney Peter LoDuca but by one of his colleagues at the law firm. Steven A Schwartz, a lawyer with over 30 years of experience, used the AI tool to find cases that were comparable to the current one.
Furthermore, Mr. Schwartz in a statement said that Mr. LoDuca was involved in the study and did not know how it was conducted. He said he “deeply regrets” using ChatGPT and added that he had never used it for legal research before. He said he “didn’t know that its contents could be wrong”. He pledged never to “supplement” his legal research using AI “without absolute verification of its authenticity”.
A Twitter thread going viral on the internet shows a conversation between a chatbot and a lawyer. “Is Varghese a real case?” Mr. Schwartz asked. ChatGPT responded and said: “Yes, Varghese v. China Southern Airlines Co Ltd, 925 F.3d 1339 (11th Cir. 2019) is a real case.”
Then he asks the bot to reveal its source. After “thorough examination”, ChatGPT added that the case is real and can be discovered on legal research sources such as LexisNexis and Westlaw.
In the lawyer’s defense he sent a screenshot FROM CHATGPT claiming that non-existent cases do exist pic.twitter.com/H2tgXu8W5s
– Daniel Feldman (@d_feldman) May 27, 2023
A hearing to “discuss potential sanctions” against Mr Schwartz was scheduled by the judge for June 8.