June 23, 2024

A US attorney is now “greatly regretting” his decision to trust OpenAI’s ChatGPT in a litigation process. Steven Schwartz will be charged in a New York court for using fake citations cooked up by the AI ​​tool in legal research for a case he was handling.

In a sworn affidavit, Schwartz admitted to using ChatGPT to research for the case, representing his client Roberto Mata, to sue Colombian airline Avianca for sustained injuries onboard one of its planes in 2019.

Despite ChatGPT’s widely known warnings that it can sometimes produce incorrect information, Schwartz defended himself saying he was “unaware that its content could be false.”

Presiding judge Kevin Castel expressed his doubts over the authenticity of the cases the attorney presented. “Six of the submitted cases appear to be bogus judicial decisions with bogus quotes and bogus internal citations,” Castel said.

The cases ChatGPT presented the lawyer in his research were Varghese v. China South Airlines, Martinez v. Delta Airlines, Shaboon v. EgyptAir, Petersen v. Iran Air, Miller v. United Airlines, and Estate of Durden v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

These cases did not exist, Castel said in an order demanding an explanation for their citation by Mata’s legal team. They were found to be made up and had fake judicial wording. Even the quotes and internal citations were just make-believe.

Though Schwartz has vowed to never use AI in the future to “supplement” his legal research “without absolute verification of its authenticity,” he now faces sanctions. A hearing on the matter is now scheduled for june 8.