- Rapper Pras Michel was convicted in April of federal charges, but his lawyers want a retrial.
- They accused his ex-lawyer, David Kenner, of using experimental AI to write his defense argument.
- The new lawyers say Kenner didn’t have the expertise needed for Michel’s case, and botched the trial.
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Lawyers for Pras Michel requested a new trial for the convicted rapper, saying his ex-attorney blew his fraud case by using generative AI to craft closing arguments.
Michel, a founding member of the Grammy-winning hip-hop group Fugees, was convicted in April of 10 federal charges, including conspiring to make and conceal foreign campaign contributions.
He was found guilty of trying to persuade US officials to drop an investigation into Jho Low, the Malaysian financier accused of playing a central role in a massive $4.5 billion fraud case.
David Kenner, an attorney known for representing Suge Knight, Tupac Shakur, and Snoop Dogg, ran Michel’s defense for the trial.
But Michel’s new lawyers, a legal team from ArentFox Schiff, now say Kenner botched the defense by using an “experimental artificial intelligence program” to draft his closing arguments.
In a Monday filing seen by Insider, Michel’s lawyers alleged that Kenner used a program called EyeLevel.AI, and was “ignoring the best arguments and conflating the charged schemes.”
“Michel never had a chance,” the ArentFox Schiff team wrote, adding that Michel’s legal defense was “deficient throughout.”
Michel’s lawyers said his former publicist told them about Kenner using EyeLevel.AI to write the closing arguments.
They pointed to a May 10 product update by EyeLevel.AI, which said that Kenner had used the program in the “first use of generative AI in a federal trial.”
“This is an absolute game changer for complex litigation,” the press release cited Kenner as saying. “The system turned hours or days of legal work into seconds. This is a look into the future of how cases will be conducted.”
EyeLevel.AI said its system “helps lawyers become 10x faster and more effective.”
Michel’s lawyers also accused Kenner and his co-counsel of holding an undisclosed financial stake in EyeLevel.AI, and alleged that the pair used the program for Michel’s defense so they could issue the press release.
The ArentFox Schiff team alleged that law firms for Kenner and his co-counsel share addresses with CaseFile Connect — a technology partner with EyeLevel.AI. These firms are located in Encino, California, and New York City, per ArentFox Schiff.
The lawyers said this “appears to confirm” that Kenner had a financial interest in the AI program.
In a statement to Insider, EyeLevel.AI said Kenner and his co-counsel had no stake in the program.
“Neither Kenner Law nor its associates have a financial stake in EyeLevel. No one at EyeLevel has any financial interest in Case File Connect,” said Neil Katz, EyeLevel’s chief operating officer.
The company also told The Daily Beast that it quoted Kenner and his co-counsel in its May product update because “they were happy with our AI’s capabilities and provided a quote for a press release.”
The ArentFox Schiff team also accused Kenner of providing inadequate defense for Michel, alleging that he wasn’t well-versed in white-collar crime and outsourced trial preparations and strategy to contract attorneys at a friend’s company.
They listed what they said were six issues in Michel’s defense, including a failure by Kenner to object to hearsay or prejudicial evidence.
Kenner and the ArentFox Schiff team did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.
Michel’s sentencing date has not been set, but he faces up to 20 years in prison.
October 20, 2023: This article has been updated to reflect comment from EyeLevel.AI.