Judge Won’t Punish Michael Cohen For Relying on Artificial Intelligence

A Manhattan judge on Wednesday declined to impose sanctions on Michael D. Cohen, the onetime fixer for former President Donald J. Trump, after he mistakenly gave his lawyer fake legal citations concocted by Google Bard, an artificial intelligence program, for a motion the lawyer was preparing on Mr. Cohen’s behalf.

The lawyer, David M. Schwartz, cited the bogus cases in his motion, which was filed in Federal District Court.

The judge, Jesse M. Furman, said the episode was embarrassing and unfortunate, but he had accepted Mr. Cohen’s explanation that he did not understand how Google Bard worked and did not mean to mislead Mr. Schwartz. The judge also said he had not found that Mr. Schwartz had acted in bad faith.

“Indeed, it would have been downright irrational for him to provide fake cases for Schwartz to include in the motion knowing they were fake,” Judge Furman wrote of Mr. Cohen, a former lawyer who has been disbarred, given the probability that Mr. Schwartz, the government or the court would discover the problem, “with potentially serious adverse consequences for Cohen himself.”

The issue arose in a case regarding tax evasion, as well as campaign finance violations committed by Mr. Cohen on behalf of Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 and served time in prison. He had been asking for an early end to the court’s supervision of his case after being released from prison and complying with the conditions of his release.

Judge Furman had denied three earlier such requests by Mr. Cohen. In his latest request, his lawyer, Mr. Schwartz, pointed out that his client testified for two days last fall in New York State’s civil fraud trial of Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen’s “willingness to come forward and provide truthful accounts,” Mr. Schwartz argued, “demonstrates an exceptional level of remorse and a commitment to upholding the law.”

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