The Sunshine Blog: Lazy Lawyers? Federal Judges Are Concerned - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair, John Hill and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, our takes and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Fake views: The federal court in Hawaii is cracking down — sort of — on those legal eagles who have been using AI to help them write briefs and other legal filings.

The four federal judges here, led by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson, earlier this week issued a general order titled “In Re: Use Of Unverified Sources.” It seems the judges are stumbling across weird things being submitted by attorneys these days.

The two-page order says AI platforms like ChatGPT or Bard appear to be producing briefs that include fictitious case sites. And that is raising concerns that factual or legal citations or references have not been properly vetted by the real human lawyer who is supposed to be looking all this stuff up.

But … rather than telling them to get back to work and earn that several-hundred-dollar-an-hour fee the court is instead only requiring the attorney to submit a declaration acknowledging that they used unverified sources.

That’s a somewhat disappointing solution, in The Sunshine Blog’s arguably purist opinion. Not only would The Blog never let a computer put words in our collective mouth, but a quick Google search on lawyers’ use of AI turns up numerous articles about how bad generative AI is at the legal profession.

“It is notorious for getting substantive law wrong, for “hallucinating” cases that don’t exist, and for being completely inept at discussing anything more recent than its training data,” says one piece on the Justia legal analysis web site. The article argues that ChatGPT should be used to train law students how to do legal research correctly.

But hey, maybe ChatGPT will have fewer billable hours. It’s faster, right?

West Side story: Five Oahu lawmakers last week issued an unusual joint statement condemning one of their own for aligning “with a group of people promoting hate and bullying.” The statement says that “individuals are hijacking sign-waving events that are meant to raise awareness about the recent violence” on the Leeward Coast.

Sen. Kurt Fevella is promoting a sign-waving campaign to raise awareness of crime on the West Side of Oahu, but some of his colleagues are concerned that the campaign is actually targeting them. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

The press release Friday came from state Sens. Mike Gabbard and Maile Shimabukuro, Reps. Diamond Garcia and Cedric Gates, and Honolulu City Councilwoman Andria Tupola — all officials on the West Side. But for unknown reasons they didn’t say who they were talking about.

The Blog has learned that it’s state Sen. Kurt Fevella, who has been seen actively sign-waving with groups “to foster crime awareness,” according to a press release from Fevella issued just the day before.

What’s unclear is who the haters and bullies are, or what they want. But one Leeward leader told The Sunshine Blog it may be a concerted effort to unseat area incumbents.

Another Maui vacancy: Now that Troy Hashimoto is in the Hawai Senate, there’s a vacancy in the Hawaii House. The Maui County Democratic Party is accepting applications for nominees to fill Hashimoto’s former District 10 seat that represents Waiehu, Paukukalo, Wailuku, Wailuku Heights and Waikapu.

The deadline to apply is Nov. 28, and the party will select three candidates in early December to send to Gov. Josh Green.

It used to be that a governor could pick the person they wanted, as long as the appointee was a member the same party as the prior occupant and met age and residency requirements. But Democrats in the Legislature changed the selection process in 2007 for vacancies.

Smelling politics, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed the bill. But it was overridden by Democrats, who said the bill was in fact a matter of electoral integrity.

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The doctor is in: He likes to be called “doctor,” has a background in health and is politically ambitious.

No, it’s not Josh Green but rather Kimo Alameda, a Hilo native running for mayor of Hawaii County.

Kimo Alameda wants to be the next Big Island mayor.

According to his campaign website, Alameda has a doctorate in psychological, educational and cultural studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His resume includes working for the Hawaii Island Community Health Center and leading the Hawaii Island Fentanyl Task Force.

Alameda’s campaign priorities are live, work and play, and he’s holding a fundraiser Thursday at the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu.

Current Mayor Mitch Roth is expected to seek a second term.

History buffed: Billed as “the true story of a big crime — the Japanese attack that ignited World War II,” it’s co-written none other than “NCIS” heartthrob Mark Harmon, who left the show awhile back and clearly had much more time to finish this book.


“Ghosts of Honolulu: A Japanese Spy, a Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor” is set to be released this week from HarperCollins. It tells the tale of local boy Douglas Wada, described as the first Japanese American to work in intelligence.

Wada worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence in the 1930s and 1940s, according to Harmon and retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service veteran Leon Carroll Jr. The other main character is Takeo Yoshikawa, a Japanese spy sent to Pearl Harbor to gather information on the U.S. fleet.

“Also caught in the upheaval are Honolulu’s innocent residents — including Douglas Wada’s father — who endure the war’s anti-Japanese fervor and a cadre of intelligence professionals who must prevent Hawaii from adopting the same destructive mass internments as California,” says a blurb on Amazon.

The Blog can’t wait for the movie.

Read this next:

John Pritchett: Kabuki Dance

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair, John Hill and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

"never let a computer put words in our collective mouth, but a quick Google search"Way too late, AI algorithms have been so integrated into the digital world and penetrated into most human organizations from academia, the arts, the military, to the internet, that lawyers protesting is truly laughable.Especially if one realizes how many prosecutions based on hypothesis, conjecture, and the imaginative defenses to these accusations have been based on Unverified Sources, and merely spawned in the fertile minds of lawyers.Thinking about it a little more, also reveals the protest by lawyers is all about the validity of billable hours, a legal subjective art form, that could actually be labeled an unverified source. It's a sacred fight that the legal profession will fight for with all their human legalistic might.

Joseppi · 1 week ago

A couple of things working backwards-1) Sounds like an interesting book. Here is a little tidbit no one really knows about. Pearl Harbor was not the first, 4 years earlier when the Japanese invaded Nanking, more radical elements of the Japanese military, that wanted to bring the US into war attacked and sunk the US Panay docked in the Yangtze river, Killing 3 and wounding 46.2) Having a PHD gives you the right to use Dr. In front of your name. Whether your a history professor or studies psychology. You can consult with patients, Unfortunately to be able to dispense medication you have to go to medical school as well and is called a Psychiatrist. Instead of a PHD you have the title of MD.3) Holding up signs calling someone corrupt and then detailing there corruption is not promoting hate and bullying. If that was the case all protest would be under scrutiny, political speech is probably the most protected of free speech. Perhaps there just angry about being called out? What's even more scarier is people in power deciding what and who should show aloha.4) Lazy lawyers using AI? Not enough words available to touch that one!

TheMotherShip · 1 week ago

Nothing unusual about five Democrats banding together and back stabbing the lonely Republican. Par for the course to do this in an underhanded manner. Crime is a serious issue that is getting worse as people become more desperate.

palakakanaka · 1 week ago

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