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Defendant Hires AI for Appeal, a Bad Situation Gets Worse

Posted:

A multi-year dispute over unpaid wages went from bad to a whole lot worse for a Midwest business owner when he decided to appeal a trial court ruling with artificial intelligence (AI).

A judge's gavel sitting on top of a book labeled
A judge's gavel sitting on top of a book labeled "Employment Law."

In Kruse v. Karlen the Court detailed "numerous fatal briefing deficiencies under the Rules of Appellate Procedure that prevent[ed] it from engaging in meaningful review." They ranged from failing to file an Appendix to an inadequate Statement of Facts.

But the real humdinger was the Appellant's submission of an appellate brief in which "the overwhelming majority of the citations [were] not only inaccurate but entirely fictitious." The Appellant claimed that he hired an online "consultant" purporting to be an attorney licensed in California to prepare the Appellate Brief (for a case pending in Missouri) and paid that "consultant" what amounted to less than one percent of the cost of retaining an attorney.

The Appellant got pretty much what he paid for.

Out of the 24 case citations, 22 were fictitious. And of the two "real" decisions, neither included citations nor stood for what the Appellant purported. The brief also included erroneous citations to Missouri statutes and rules erroneously. Some concerned completely different legal matters; others misstate the substance of the law.

The Appellant stated he did not know that the consultant would use "artificial intelligence hallucinations" and denied any intention to mislead the Court or waste the time of the employee and her lawyer researching fictitious precedent. Despite the apology, the Court refused to countenance filing "an appellate brief with bogus citations [...] for any reason," deeming it "a flagrant violation of the duties of candor Appellant owes to this Court."

As a federal district court in New York recently noted,

A fake opinion is not "existing law" and citation to a fake opinion does not provide a non-frivolous ground for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law, or for establishing new law. An attempt to persuade a court or oppose an adversary by relying on fake opinions is an abuse of the adversary system.

The Court "urge[d] all parties practicing before this Court, barred and self-represented alike, to be cognizant that we are aware of the issue and will not permit fraud on this Court in violation of our rules."

As a sanction for his frivolous filing, the Court ordered the Appellant to pay the employee $10,000 (more), bringing the grand total to $321,000.

Posted In: Artificial Intelligence (AI); Human Resources, General; Wage and Hour Laws

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