October 18, 2023

Rapper Convicted Over Obama Campaign Charges Wants New Trial, Claims Lawyer Used AI

Rapper Pras Michel of the Fugees wants a new trial after claiming that his former lawyer used AI to create his closing argument.

Michel was convicted of helping a foreign entity to illegally contribute millions of dollars to former President Barack Obama's campaign.

"Michel was convicted in April after being accused of taking part in an extensive conspiracy to use about $88 million in foreign funds to engage in illegal back-channel lobbying and make unlawful campaign contributions at the direction of the People’s Republic of China," Fox News reported.

"The motion argues Michel’s former defense attorney David Kenner 'used an experimental AI program to write his closing argument, which made frivolous arguments, conflated the schemes and failed to highlight key weaknesses in the Government’s case,'" it added.

“The AI program failed Kenner, and Kenner failed Michel,” the brief said, according to NBC News.

“The closing argument was deficient, unhelpful, and a missed opportunity that prejudiced the defense," it stated.

The high-profile case included testimony from actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The case could be retried on the basis that the former lawyer had a financial interest in the AI company used in the closing argument.

EyeLevel.AI, the tool used to create the document, reportedly had some level of financial tie to Michel's ex-lawyer David Kenner.

The outcome remains uncertain over whether Michel will receive a new trial, but if so it would mark a new step in the brief history of AI that could influence future cases.

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