Former Fugees member Pras Michél claims his recent conviction was due to a sub-standard closing argument that his lawyer drafted using AI.
When Michél was charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government he hired David Kenner, a lawyer that previously represented rappers like Snoop Dogg.
The legal story behind the charges is a fascinating dive into international intrigue, from China to Malaysian businessman Jho Low of 1MDB scandal infamy. The part of the story we’re particularly interested in is why Michél claims AI lost him the case.
His new legal team filed a motion saying that Kenner “used an experimental artificial intelligence (AI) program to draft the closing argument, ignoring the best arguments and conflating the charged schemes.”
They further argue that Kenner’s reliance on the AI tool led to “prejudicial ineffective assistance of counsel.” In other words, the AI tool he used didn’t do a great job.
The tool in question is the AI litigation assistant from a company called EyeLevel. A blog post on the company’s website proudly states that its AI tool “made history last week, becoming the first use of generative AI in a federal trial.”
The post quotes David Kenner saying, “This is an absolute game changer for complex litigation.”
Kenner continued to sing the tool’s praises saying that “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 is proud to be the first AI used in a federal trial. Our platform helped lawyers get complex answers fast in the case of former Fugee’s star Pras Michel.https://t.co/U92w48ymmZ
— EyeLevel.AI (@eyelevelai) May 11, 2023
The blog post fails to mention that Kenner lost the case and that Michél faces up to 20 years in prison for his conviction on 10 charges.
Kenner denies any financial interest in EyeLevel but Michél’s new legal team claim “It is now apparent that Kenner and his co-counsel appear to have had an undisclosed financial stake in the AI program.”
If it’s true that Kenner offered his endorsement as a lawyer simply trying to do a good deed without wanting money in return then that would be history-making in itself.
Michél’s legal team hopes to overturn his convictions but failing that he’ll be facing a long stretch in prison. The Grammy Award winner will be joining fellow Fugees Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean in a reunion tour while he awaits his sentencing date.
AI is no doubt making the lives of lawyers and their assistants a lot easier when it comes to wading through mountains of legal documents. However, this case does highlight that there are some things that you may not want to have ChatGPT handle for you quite yet.
If you’re currently making use of a lawyer’s services, Michél’s advice may be that you confirm which aspects your lawyer uses AI for.