Judge’s Ruling Highlights Responsibilities Of AI in the Legal Profession

Written by Muhammad Muneeb Ur Rehman ·  3 min read >

In a recent development, attorneys Steven Schwartz and Peter LoDuca of the law firm Levidow, Levidow & Oberman narrowly escaped severe consequences for submitting a lawsuit that contained citations of entirely fictional cases. Despite the serious nature of their actions, a federal judge, P. Kevin Castel, chose not to impose sanctions that could have derailed their legal careers. Instead, he opted to levy a $5,000 fine on the attorneys for acting in “bad faith.” While the judge acknowledged the attorneys’ shifting explanations and initial attempts to defend the erroneous legal filing, he ultimately decided that a monetary penalty and retraction were sufficient, given the unprecedented circumstances involving the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the case.

Background of the Case:

The controversy arose when Schwartz and LoDuca, representing a client suing an airline over an alleged knee injury during a flight, relied on an AI chatbot, ChatGPT, for their legal research. The AI chatbot provided the attorneys with citations to six supposed previous cases related to the matter. Unfortunately, it later became evident that ChatGPT had fabricated these cases entirely, prompting the lawyers to confront the issue and defend their actions.

Judge Castel’s Ruling and Imposed Penalties:

Judge Castel, while acknowledging that the use of AI tools in the legal field is not inherently improper, found fault with the attorneys’ negligence in verifying the accuracy of the research conducted by ChatGPT. In his ruling, he highlighted the attorneys’ duty to act as gatekeepers, ensuring the integrity and reliability of their legal filings. As a consequence of their actions, the judge imposed a $5,000 fine on Schwartz and LoDuca for their “shifting and contradictory explanations” and initially misleading the court in their defense. Additionally, the attorneys were instructed to notify the judges cited in their erroneous filing, clarifying that the cases referenced were entirely fabricated by the AI chatbot. Notably, Judge Castel considered the subsequent apologies issued by the lawyers as sufficient and deemed further sanctions unnecessary.

Judge Castle’s Stance on AI in the Legal Profession:

Judge Castel’s ruling explicitly addressed the role of AI in the legal profession. While he expressed no objection to the use of reliable AI tools for legal assistance, he emphasized that attorneys must exercise due diligence to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in their filings. Recognizing that technological advancements are commonplace, the judge reiterated that existing rules place a responsibility on attorneys to fulfill their gatekeeping role effectively.

Law Firm’s Response and Potential Appeal:

Levidow, Levidow & Oberman, the law firm representing Schwartz and LoDuca, expressed disagreement with the finding of bad faith on the part of their attorneys. In a statement, the firm emphasized that they had already offered apologies to the court and their client. They contended that the use of AI in an unprecedented situation led to a good faith mistake, as they had not anticipated that an AI chatbot could fabricate cases. Despite the judge’s ruling, the law firm is considering an appeal in pursuit of a more favorable outcome for its lawyers.

Impact on the Underlying Lawsuit:

Amidst the controversy surrounding the AI-generated citations, it is crucial to address the fate of the original lawsuit filed by the firm’s client against the airline. Unfortunately for the client, the judge dismissed the case due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. This further underscores the significance of thorough legal research and accurate citations in preserving the viability of a case.

Lessons Learned and the Future of AI in the Legal Field:

The incident involving Schwartz, LoDuca, and ChatGPT serves as a cautionary tale about the potential pitfalls and ethical considerations associated with integrating AI tools into the legal profession. While AI can undoubtedly offer valuable assistance, attorneys must exercise careful judgment, maintain oversight, and verify the accuracy of AI-generated information before presenting it in court. Establishing guidelines and best practices for the use of AI in legal research will be vital to prevent similar instances of misrepresentation and protect the integrity of the legal system.

The recent ruling by Judge Castel, in which he imposed a fine but refrained from imposing severe sanctions on attorneys Schwartz and LoDuca, brings attention to the need for increased vigilance and responsibility when utilizing AI tools in the legal profession. While the attorneys may have escaped more severe consequences, the case underscores the importance of attorney accountability, research verification, and the development of robust regulations to ensure the integrity and accuracy of legal filings.

As the legal field continues to grapple with the advancements of AI, it is crucial for legal professionals to adapt, learn from such incidents, and establish guidelines that strike a balance between leveraging technological innovations and upholding the highest standards of legal practice.

The ruling by Judge Castel serves as a significant moment in the intersection of AI and the legal profession, prompting a wider conversation about the ethical considerations and responsibilities that accompany the use of AI tools. As legal practitioners embrace technology to streamline their work and enhance efficiency, it becomes increasingly crucial to strike a delicate balance between harnessing the benefits of AI and upholding the principles of integrity, accuracy, and accountability in legal practice. 

This case underscores the need for ongoing discussions, guidelines, and education within the legal community to ensure that AI is utilized responsibly, avoiding potential pitfalls and maintaining the trust and credibility of the legal system.

Written by Muhammad Muneeb Ur Rehman
Muneeb is a full-time News/Tech writer at He is a passionate follower of the IT progression of Pakistan and the world and wants to educate the people of Pakistan about tech affairs. His favorite part about being a tech writer is tech reviews and giving an honest and clear verdict to his readers. Contact Muneeb on his LinkedIn at: Profile