Court Issues Sanctions for Use of Artificial Intelligence in Court Filings

Court Issues Sanctions for Use of Artificial Intelligence in Court Filings

Earlier this month, a Missouri-based company was sanctioned by an appellate court for filing briefs that included “fake” cases generated by artificial intelligence (“AI”) technologies. The brief at issue was filed by a pro-se defendant who was seeking an appeal of a judgment against his business.

The lawsuit involved a wage claim by a former employee of the business. The plaintiff in that matter was successful in obtaining a judgment for $311,000 in wages. The Missouri company then submitted briefs on appeal that cited several fictitious cases.[1] A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the original order and ordered an additional $10,000 be paid in “damages for filing a frivolous appeal.”[2]

The appellate court noted that the citations in the defendant’s brief were not only inaccurate but entirely fictitious.[3] The appellate court determined that filings referencing case law and citations that do not exist amount to fraud in violation of its rules.

The defendant apologized to the court and noted that he hired an online consultant holding itself out to be an attorney licensed in California.[4] He explained that the consultant used AI to generate the appellate briefs that were submitted to the court.

Several other instances have occurred since the inception and availability of AI to generate legal documents. For example, in Mata v. Avianca,[5] a federal case in New York, the judge reprimanded attorneys for also submitting a brief prepared by artificial intelligence that also cited nonexistence case law.[6]

In response to the rise and accessibility of AI as a means to prepare legal documents, several courts across the country have considered enacting local rules barring its use or, alternatively, requiring disclosing the use of generative AI in court filings.

[1] Law360: AI-Generated Fake Case Law Leads to Sanctions in Wage Suit by Rose Krebs

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Mata v. Avianca Inc., Case No. 22-CV-1461 (S.D.N.Y., filed Feb. 22, 2022)

[6] Forbes Magazine: Artificial Intelligence and the Law: An Early Warning by Jay Adkisson

Shaza F. Quadri | Paul K. Schrieffer

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