Rapper “Pras” Michel, one-third of the legendary hip-hop group The Fugees, accused his lawyer from a recent federal criminal case of using AI in his closing arguments. Ars Technica reports that the “Ghetto Supastar” artist claims his one-time attorney, David Kenner, used an AI program with which the lawyer potentially had a financial interest. Pras, whose legal name is Prakazrel Samuel Michel, was found guilty in April of 10 counts of conspiring and acting as an unregistered foreign government agent and faces up to 20 years in prison. The rapper is seeking a new trial.
Pras’ motion for a new trial says Kenner “used an experimental artificial intelligence (AI) program to draft the closing argument, ignoring the best arguments and conflating the charged schemes, and he then publicly boasted that the AI program ‘turned hours or days of legal work into seconds.’” That quote was pulled from a promotional article for EyeLevel.AI, “litigation assistance technology” that lists an entity called CaseFile Connect as a launch partner. The motion says CaseFile Connect’s principal address is the same as Kenner’s law firm.
“It is now apparent that Kenner and his co-counsel appear to have had an undisclosed financial stake in the AI program, and they experimented with it during Michel’s trial so they could issue a press release afterward promoting the program—a clear conflict of interest,” Pras’ motion alleges.
The Fugee claims Kenner’s use of the AI tool led him to make embarrassing musical misattributions in his closing arguments. It accuses the lawyer of attributing the lyrics “Every single day, every time I pray, I will be missing you” to Pras’ group, The Fugees. (That line was from Puff Daddy and Faith Evans’s 1997 Biggie Smalls tribute “I’ll Be Missing You.”) The motion also alleges Kenner credited Michel’s 1998 solo hit “Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)” to The Fugees.
In addition to the AI accusations, the motion alleges that Kenner was “ineffective” and that his actions “severely prejudiced the defense.” It says the attorney “failed to familiarize himself with the charged statutes, causing him to overlook critical weaknesses in the Government’s case.” In addition, it accuses Kenner of failing to understand the facts or allegations while outsourcing trial prep and strategy to contract attorneys at a friend’s e-discovery company (among other allegations).
Pras was found guilty in April of funneling money from Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. Prosecutors insisted Pras donated the money for Low, while the rapper argued he was only trying to help the businessman take a photo with Obama. Pras then allegedly tried to quash a DOJ investigation and influence an extradition case.
If Pras’ complaint sounds familiar, it parallels the “ChatGPT lawyer” Steven Schwartz, who cited fictional cases as an erroneous precedent in a legal document. Schwartz, his associate Peter LoDuca and their law firm Levidow, Levidow and Oberman were fined $5,000 for having “abandoned their responsibilities” in the case. Schwartz claimed he used the chatbot to “supplement” his research while insisting he was “unaware of the possibility that [ChatGPT’s] content could be false.”