This last spring The Fugees’ Pras Michel was embroiled in a highly public conspiracy case that involved a fugitive foreign national, Leonardo DiCaprio, millions of dollars, and even US presidents. That trial did not turn out well, as he was subsequently convicted, but now he’s blaming that loss on his lawyer’s use of AI and is seeking an appeal.
His new lawyers, from ArentFox Schiff, contend his previous lawyer’s defense of Michel was woefully inadequate, in part because he relied on the AI program EyeLevel.AI to craft his final argument in the complex, politically charged case, which featured testimony from Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The AI program failed [David] Kenner, and Kenner failed Michel,” the brief said. “The closing argument was deficient, unhelpful and a missed opportunity that prejudiced the defense.”
“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.
Pras’ defense also alleges that Kenner and his co-counsel, Alon Israely, “appear to have had” an undisclosed financial interest in a company called CaseFile Connect, which acted as a “technology partner” to EyeLevel.AI.
They first learned that Kenner had used an AI program to write his closing argument from Michel’s former publicist, who told ArentFox that Kenner said as much at the end of Michel’s trial.
ArentFox subsequently found a little-noticed May 10 press release issued by EyeLevel.AI after Michel’s trial, hailing “the first use of generative AI in a federal trial.”
The motion seeking a retrial for Michel also argued that the proceeding was tainted because the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of Washington, D.C., allowed jurors to hear that she and another federal judge had already concluded, in the context of the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege, that Michel conspired with an alleged co-conspirator to commit some of the crimes the government charged.
This case just keeps getting weirder.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.