Today: 14-04-2024

The lead attorney for convicted Fugees rapper Prakazrel "Pras" Michel improperly relied on an experimental artificial intelligence program to compose his closing argument

The lead attorney for convicted Fugees rapper Prakazrel "Pras" Michel improperly relied on an experimental artificial intelligence program to compose his closing argument in Michel's high-profile criminal trial last spring, according to a recent motion demanding a retrial in Michel's case.

Michel's new attorney from ArentFox, Schiff, claimed that the closing argument by Michel's previous attorney, David Kenner, generated by artificial intelligence, turned out to be a significant failure: "Kenner's closing argument contained frivolous arguments, misunderstood necessary elements, mixed up schemes, and ignored critical weaknesses in the government's case," the motion states.

According to the report, Kenner failed the "most critical part" of the jury trial for Michel by using an experimental artificial intelligence program to craft his closing argument.

Kenner did not immediately respond to two email requests for comment on the new allegations. His attorney, Alon Israeli, did not immediately respond to a request sent through LinkedIn.

Michel was convicted in April on federal charges of conspiring with fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low in three alleged lobbying schemes to influence two different U.S. presidential administrations.

His new attorneys argue that Kenner's defense of Michel was woefully inadequate, in part because he relied on the EyeLevel.AI artificial intelligence program to craft his closing argument in a complex, politically charged case that featured testimony from Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"The artificial intelligence program failed Kenner, and Kenner failed Michel," the motion states. "The closing argument was insufficient, useless, and a missed opportunity that harmed the defense."

Even more glaring, according to the ArentFox report, is that Kenner and Israeli "appear to have had" an undisclosed financial interest in a company called CaseFile Connect, which served as the "technology partner" to EyeLevel.AI.

The memo alleges that Kenner and Israeli viewed Michel's trial as an opportunity to promote CaseFile Connect, advancing their own financial interests at Michel's expense.

CaseFile Connect did not immediately respond to requests sent through its website.

In a statement accompanying the brief, ArentFox partner Peter Zeidenberg, a former political corruption prosecutor at the Department of Justice, said his team first learned that Kenner used artificial intelligence to write his closing argument from Michel's former publicist, who told ArentFox that Kenner said the same thing at the end of Michel's trial.

ArentFox subsequently found an obscure May 10 press release issued by EyeLevel.AI after Michel's trial, touting the "first use of generative AI in federal litigation."

The press release quoted Kenner, who said the AI program "turned hours or days of legal work into seconds" and called its use a "glimpse into the future of how litigation will be conducted."

Zeidenberg's statement also quoted a LinkedIn post from EyeLevel.AI's CEO, confirming the use of the program at Michel's trial. "The AI startup I worked on is now the first-ever application of AI in federal criminal discovery," the CEO wrote in his post. "Pras Michel's Fugees lawyers used our platform for quick research and drafting closing arguments."

In an emailed statement, EyeLevel.AI said Kenner and Israeli do not have a financial interest in its program. "EyeLevel AI for lawyers is a powerful tool for human lawyers to make decisions, but do so faster and with much more information at their disposal," the company said in response to ArentFox's criticism of its closing argument. "EyeLevel is capable of understanding complex legal transcripts based solely on the facts presented in court."

ArentFox claimed it discovered that CaseFile Connect and Kenner's law firm listed the same office complex in Encino, California, as their principal address. CaseFile Connect's alternate address, according to Zeidenberg's statement, was an office in New York linked to Kenner and Israeli's co-counsel.