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I read this story where a US judge is forcing lawyers in his court to sign a pledge saying they did not use ChatGPT to generate filings without being checked by a human.

While that's a very reasonable thing, I am wondering where that authority comes from, or what the limits are. Can a US judge require lawyers in their court to sign other types of pledges?

What if they refuse?

What if they don't agree with it or feel it violates a freedom?

Is this similar to a judge's authority to charge people with contempt which also has no recourse?

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  • What do you mean by: "a judge's authority to charge people with contempt which also has no recourse"
    – MikeB
    Jun 5, 2023 at 6:59

2 Answers 2

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In Canada, this would fall within a court's inherent jurisdiction to control its own processes. For example (in another context):

Based on a reading of the authorities, I am able to conclude that the Courts have the inherent jurisdiction to require parties and their solicitors to enter into undertakings regarding the use of documents produced for discovery.

(Anderson v. Anderson et al., 1979 CanLII 1673 (ON SC))

The inherent jurisdiction of a court to control its own processes extends to controlling the conduct of lawyers, being officers of the court (see e.g. R. v. Faulkner, 2013 ONSC 1824, paragraphs 8-9).

If the lawyer or their client believes a particular exercise of this inherent jurisdiction is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they could challenge it on those grounds. The court's order as such is not subject to the Charter, but the common law governing its issuance is subject to Charter scrutiny. See generally Dagenais v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp., [1994] 3 S.C.R. 835.

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    Same answer would be correct in the United States, and probably throughout common-law jurisdictions.
    – bdb484
    Jun 4, 2023 at 23:06
  • Thanks, that's a good explanation! Jun 6, 2023 at 6:41
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An attorney is required to tell the truth in court even if not under oath, and can be disbarred for failing to do so. For most practical purposes, an attorney is always under oath anyway.

If there are procedural matters in a particular case where there are factual issues, attorneys can be required to provide facts that substantiate a lack of wrong doing on pain of having wrongdoing assumed. This is part of the general authority of a judge (sometimes called the judge's "inherent authority") to supervise proceedings in that judge's courtroom.

But, the judge does not have the authority require statements unrelated to cases pending before him. A judge can't, for example, require an attorney to pledge support for a political candidate or a sports team.

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