​Pras Michel’s lawyer used AI to write his closing statement, Fugees star claims

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Fugees member Prakazrel ‘Pras’ Michel is seeking a retrial of his federal court case after claiming that his former attorney, David Kenner, botched the closing argument by using an AI-generated script.

The 50-year-old rapper was found guilty of all 10 criminal conspiracy charges he was facing in a Washington DC federal court in April, which included acting as an unregistered foreign agent of China, witness tampering, and conspiring to defraud the United States government and make illegal political campaign contributions.

A motion was filed on Monday, October 16, seeking a retrial after the former attorney was said to have fumbled the “single most important” part of the trial by using a closing statement created by an AI platform similar to ChatGPT. It stated: “The closing argument was deficient, unhelpful and a missed opportunity that prejudiced the defence.”

Read this next: Fugees member Pras Michel testifies at federal conspiracy trial

“Kenner’s closing argument made frivolous arguments, misapprehended the required elements, conflated the schemes and ignored critical weaknesses in the government’s case,” the brief said, (via Reuters).

The 113-page motion also links to a blog post published by EyeLevel.AI, the AI platform said to be used by Michel’s former attorney, claiming that it was “the first use of generative AI” in a federal court case.

It also claims that the former attorney and his co-counsel “appear to have had an undisclosed financial stake in the AI program”, which they experimented with during Michel’s trial to release the aforementioned blog post as a show of its use.

Michel has now retained Washington DC-based law firm ArentFox Schiff LLP as new counsel, per an email seen by Mixmag, including civil rights attorney and former U.S. Senator Doug Jones.

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During the federal court case, prosecutors accused Michel of accepting multi-million dollar payments to further the interests of China and assist Malaysian billionaire Jho Low in gaining political connections in the US and attempting to influence the Obama and Trump administrations.

Michel testified that a $20 million payment from Low was to help him get a photo with Barack Obama, with Michel claiming to act as a “celebrity surrogate” to assist Low in gaining access to political fundraisers his reputation for partying would otherwise block him from.

The 50-year-old Fugees star pleaded not guilty to all counts of criminal conspiracy. In a statement sent to Mixmag after Michel was found guilty, his former lawyer, David Kenner, said: “We are of course very disappointed, but I am very confident in the ultimate outcome of this case. Her honor gave us a briefing schedule that will allow us to brief a number of motions that I made during the course of this trial.”

Read the motion for retrial in full here.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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