Published on: Tuesday, November 28, 2023

A Colorado attorney has been temporarily suspended after he used "sham" case law citations produced by the artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT in a motion and lied to a judge that an intern produced the errors, according to a state disciplinary ruling (article available here).

Zachariah C. Crabill was suspended Nov. 22 for at least 90 days, with the remainder of his 366-day suspension stayed upon completion of a two-year probation period, according to an opinion issued by the Colorado Supreme Court Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge.  

Crabill had never drafted such a motion before, and says he spent more than six hours sifting through templates and past motions drafted by his law firm at the time. Concerned that the motion was taking too long, Crabill then used ChatGPT to find case law that supported his client's position.

Crabill violated his duty to his client to act competently and with diligence.

In June, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York sanctioned two personal injury attorneys for submitting a brief written by artificial intelligence that cited nonexistent case law.

The judge found attorneys Peter LoDuca and Steven Schwartz of the personal injury boutique Levidow Levidow & Oberman PC "abandoned their responsibilities" to check their work, and their behavior rose to "bad faith" when they then waited weeks to finally admit to the incident.