In what are thought to be the first major sanctions arising from using artificial intelligence in the legal field, Steven Schwartz and his co-worker Peter LoDuca were slapped with a joint $5,000 (£3,926) fine and ordered to inform the judges whose names were wrongfully invoked in the fake cases to provide information.
The original personal injury case was disrupted by the revelation that a claimant’s legal team member submitted a legal document containing several bogus cases.
The claimant’s lawyer, Peter LoDuca, had not prepared his own legal research but instead allowed his colleague, Steven Schwartz, to prepare it for him which he did using ChatGPT.
New York District Judge Peter Kevin Castel said Schwartz and LoDuca acted in bad faith and misled the court when they “consciously avoided” signs the cases they were using as examples were fake.
However, he found “nothing inherently improper about using a reliable artificial intelligence tool for assistance”. Instead sanctioning the lawyers because of their lack of responsibility and decision to double down on the error after the court had questioned them.
The lawyers’ firm, Levidow Levidow & Oberman, P.C., said it hasn’t decided whether to appeal yet but released a statement to Forbes saying they “fully intend to comply” with the court’s order, but “respectfully disagree” that anyone at the firm “acted in bad faith”.
“We continue to believe that in the face of what even the court acknowledged was an unprecedented situation, we made a good faith mistake in failing to believe that a piece of technology could be making up cases out of whole cloth,” the statement continued.
A Sheffield firm which took on thousands of cases from the collapsed Pure Group has itself filed for administration. According to court records, SSB Group Ltd gave notice of its intention to appoint an administrator on Monday. It is understood the business is in talks over a pre-pack sale as it seeks to avoid an intervention by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
As widely trailed to the national media, reforms to criminal sentencing and the leasehold system feature heavily in the government's legislative programme in the runup to the general election expected in autumn 2024.