Chief Justice John Roberts focused his year-end report on the role of artificial intelligence in the legal profession, steering clear of commenting on legal controversies related to former President Donald Trump.
Politico reports that in his 2023 year-end report, SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts offered a nuanced view on the increasing integration of artificial intelligence in the legal profession. His report, notably avoiding high-profile Trump-related controversies, focused instead on the impact of AI on the judicial system.
Roberts stated that he believes the judicial system “will be significantly affected by AI,” as the technology is increasingly adopted by law firms, legal clients, and judges. He acknowledged the different applications of AI in law, stating, “Legal research may soon be unimaginable without it. AI obviously has great potential to dramatically increase access to key information for lawyers and non-lawyers alike. But just as obviously it risks invading privacy interests and dehumanizing the law.”
Roberts also addressed the challenges of utilizing AI in the legal world, referring to high-profile mistakes where lawyers utilizing AI accidentally cited non-existent cases. Roberts added that using AI in this was, “always a bad idea.”
Breitbart News previously reported on a lawyer who landed in hot water after using ChatGPT to write a legal brief full of made up cases, the result of the AI tool “hallucinating:”
More than a dozen court rulings were cited in the document, including “Miller v. United Airlines,” “Martinez v. Delta Airlines,” and “Varghese v. China Southern Airlines.” These court rulings, however, were nowhere to be found because ChatGPT, an AI, completely made them up. When AI chatbots like ChatGPT make up information, it is referred to in the tech industry as “hallucinating.” ChatGPT and other similar tools suffering from such “hallucinations” is an extremely common occurrence.
Schwartz claimed in an affidavit that he had used the chatbot to “supplement” his case-related research. “I was unaware of the possibility that [ChatGPT’s] content could be false,” he wrote. Schwartz’s screenshots reveal that he had questioned ChatGPT about the veracity of the cases it cited. In its affirmative response, the AI asserted that the rulings could be found in “reputable legal databases,” such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.
Expressing his regret, Schwartz stated, “I greatly regret using ChatGPT and will never do so in the future without absolute verification of its authenticity.”
Breitbart News recently reported on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen making the same mistake:
he 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.
In contrast to his famous 2005 confirmation hearing statement that a judge’s role is “to call balls and strikes,” Roberts highlighted the subtleties and complexities involved in judicial decisions. He wrote, “Legal determinations often involve gray areas that still require application of human judgment. I predict that human judges will be around for a while.”
In his report, Roberts was notably silent on the Supreme Court’s involvement in the ongoing controversies surrounding former President Donald Trump, including his eligibility for the 2024 presidential ballot and potential criminal trials. Rather than comment on a politically-charged case such as former President Trump’s, Roberts highlighted the technological innovations the courts adopted during the coronavirus pandemic, including videoconference hearings. He emphasized that continuing these practices could allow courts to “lock in efficiency gains.”