Michael Cohen Gave Lawyer Fictitious Legal Citations Generated by AI, Could Benefit Trump in N.Y. Case

US President Donald Trumps former attorney Michael Cohen arrives at US Federal Court in Ne

Michael Cohen, a former personal lawyer to Donald Trump, said in court papers unsealed Friday that he had accidentally given his lawyers fictitious legal citations generated by an artificial intelligence program — an admission that could undermine his credibility when he testifies against his former boss.

The fake citations were used by Cohen’s lawyer, David Schwartz, in a motion submitted to federal Judge Jesse M. Furman, the New York Times reported Friday. Cohen had asked the judge in the motion for an early end to the court’s supervision of his case, after serving prison time and complying with the conditions of his release, the report said. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations.

Cohen said in a sworn declaration that he did not realize that Google Bard was a “generative text service that, like ChatGPT, could show citations and descriptions that looked real but actually were not.” He also said he did not know his lawyer would submit his fake citations to the court without confirming they existed.

According to the Times, Cohen’s use of fake citations could undermine Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal case against Trump, in which Cohen is expected to be the star witness.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“The former president’s lawyers have long attacked Mr. Cohen as a serial fabulist; now, they say they have a brand-new example,” the Times reported.

The case against Trump is scheduled for trial on March 25. Bragg has charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in violation of a state law. However, he is also arguing that Trump falsified business records “with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal commission thereof,” with that other crime allegedly being a federal campaign violation related to the payment of former porn actress Stormy Daniels. Former prosecutors and legal experts say Bragg’s approach is novel and dubious.

Trump’s lawyer, Susan R. Necheles, called the revelation “typical Michael Cohen.”

“The D.A.’s office should not be basing a case on him,” Necheles said, according to the Times. “He’s an admitted perjurer and has pled guilty to multiple felonies and this is just an additional indication of his lack of character and ongoing criminality.”

The nonexistent cases cited by Cohen — “United States v. Figueroa-Flores, United States v. Ortiz and United States v. Amato” reportedly came with corresponding summaries and notations that they had been affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

But, the Times noted, “It has become clear that they were hallucinations created by the chatbot, taking bits and pieces of actual cases and combining them with robotic imagination.”

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