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Monday, December 11, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

This was inevitable

October 30, 2023

I just had to write this. I'm not going to worry about it.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

I didn’t want to write this column but I had no choice.

At least I don’t think I did. But since I didn’t want to do it, why am I doing it? Maybe I did want to write this. I don’t know.

I bring this up because I have to but also because a book by a neurobiologist named Robert Sapolsky got some publicity recently because it says humans have no free will. We’re just stuck responding to stimuli, so no one can be blamed for anything.

This was met with dismay and a lot of disagreement from people who may not have been able to do anything else.

In theory, this has a major impact on the legal system. If no one can be blamed, what’s the point of punishing people? Shouldn’t we at least understand that criminals are motivated by forces beyond their control?

This could revolutionize criminal law.

But it won’t, because we can’t help punishing people.

My advice (that I’m forced to give you) is not to worry about this stuff. It’s not like we can do anything about it.

Artificial expertise. Can you use ChatGPT as an expert witness?

I didn’t think so, but then I ran across this recently in a South Carolina federal judge’s ruling in a patent dispute over softball bats:

“Pure Sport (the defendant) consulted ChatGPT to determine that the definition of ‘foam' is ‘a substance with a structure characterized by the presence of numerous gas bubbles within a liquid or solid matrix.’”

Imagine yourself as the attorney for the defendant and you need to define foam. You could, say, check out a dictionary. Or you could ask some kind of scientist.

But, no, these guys just decided to ask ChatGPT and fully admit to it. At the very least, this seems self-defeating — how many hours can you bill for asking a computer to do your work?

The court, in case you’re wondering, went with the plaintiff’s human expert on the foam issue and then looked up "foam" in a technical dictionary.

Computers are not going to win until we have computer judges.

I won’t explain the rest of the ruling — it’s 35 pages about softball bat technology. Apparently, bats are not just big sticks.

Always consider your mental health and boredom tolerance before reading any court ruling.

Sorry agreement. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: very few people say they’re sorry until they get caught.

So how sorry are they?

I bring this up because part of a plea deal with Kenneth Chesebro, a former attorney for Donald Trump, is that he must write an apology to the people of Georgia.


Does anyone think Chesebro is sorry (except, of course, being sorry that he got charged with a crime)?

What are you supposed to say in an apology letter to all the people in a state? Will anyone believe anything that’s in the letter? Will the people of Georgia feel better after reading this letter? Will they be forgiving?

What are the requirements for a plea deal apology letter? Can you just say, “I’m sorry for encouraging a slate of fake electors?” Do you need to go into detail for how sorry you are? Do you need to claim you’ll never do it again?

What’s worse, Cheseboro could have an aide, or ChatGPT, write the letter.

At the very least, the judge in this case should require Cheseboro to sit in the courtroom and write the letter in longhand.

We will then still not believe it.

Categories / Op-Ed

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