Traffic court defendants lose their 'robot lawyer'
Screenshot from the DoNotPay website.
A “robot lawyer” won’t be representing two traffic court defendants after the CEO of a company promising to supply the technology changed his mind.
Joshua Browder, a 2017 ABA Journal Legal Rebel, had said earlier this month he would use an artificial intelligence chatbot to assist two defendants when they appear before judges to fight speeding tickets. Browder is the founder of DoNotPay, a startup founded to help motorists contest their traffic tickets.
One defendant would appear in a Zoom hearing, Browder had said. The other would appear in court while wearing smart glasses that would record court proceedings and use a speaker to provide legal arguments to the wearer.
Browder got cold feet, however, after hearing from bar officials, report NPR and Law.com.
“Multiple state bar associations have threatened us,” Browder told NPR. “One even said a referral to the district attorney’s office and prosecution and prison time would be possible.”
Browder was told that the unauthorized practice of law is a misdemeanor in some states that carries a possible sentence of six months in jail.
Some Twitter users also criticized Browder’s legal products after testing them for shortcomings, according to Law.com.
Browder now said in a series of tweets his company’s nonconsumer legal products, such as defamation demand letters and divorce agreements, “are a distraction,” and he is removing them from DoNotPay. Instead, the company will focus on consumer rights, including helping people lower medical bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and dispute credit reports.
“There isn’t a lawyer that will get out of bed to help you with a $400 refund,” Browder tweeted.