The Fugees' Pras Michel Claims Lawyer Used AI to Write Butchered Closing Argument, Wants Retrial

The rapper was found guilty of political conspiracy in April

Photo: MiamiFilmFestival (Flickr)

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 17, 2023

In April, founding Fugees member Pras Michel was found guilty of political conspiracy by a federal jury following witness testimonies, including that of Leonardo DiCaprio. The musician-turned-businessman was charged with 10 counts of conspiracy related to undisclosed lobbying campaigns and money laundering. Now, Michel is asking for a retrial because he claims his lawyer butchered his closing argument by crafting it with generative AI.

Reuters reports that a new brief filed on Michel's behalf is requesting a retrial as a result of his former attorney, David Kenner, allegedly using an experimental generative AI program called EyeLevel.AI to write his closing argument. The rapper's new legal team at ArentFox Schiff claimed that Kenner's use of the technology ended up leading the lawyer to biff the "single most important portion" of Michel's defence. 

"Kenner's closing argument made frivolous arguments, misapprehended the required elements, conflated the schemes and ignored critical weaknesses in the government's case," they wrote, later adding: "The AI program failed Kenner, and Kenner failed Michel. The closing argument was deficient, unhelpful and a missed opportunity that prejudiced the defence."

Michel's lawyers also pointed out that Kenner and his legal partner, Alon Israely, seem to have an undisclosed financial stake in CaseFile Connect — which posits itself as the only secure, privilege-protecting platform for attorneys and incarcerated clients to collaborate remotely — a "technology partner" to EyeLevel.AI.

They allege that Kenner intended to use the case as a chance to advertise the platform, as supported by a press release from the AI program that called Kenner's closing argument "the first use of generative AI in a federal trial." It also included a quote from the lawyer about how the program "turned hours or days of legal work into seconds."

However, EyeLevel.AI has issued a statement denying that Kenner and Israely have a share in the company, writing in response to the ArentFox Schiff brief: "EyeLevel's AI for legal is a powerful tool for human lawyers to make human decisions, but do so faster and with far greater information at their fingertips. EyeLevel is able to ingest and understand complex legal transcripts based solely on the facts of the case as presented in court."

Furthermore, the brief filed on Michel's behalf included an inventory of Kenner's purported failures in addition to butchering the closing argument. Among them is the accusation that the musician's former attorney — who is not an expert in the complexities of white-collar cases or lobbying regulations — outsourced some trial prep to inexperienced contract attorneys who are part of an electronic discovery company co-founded by Israely.

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