November 30, 2023


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The lawyer for convicted Fugees rapper Bras Michel used artificial intelligence to craft his botched closing argument

The lawyer for convicted Fugees rapper Bras Michel used artificial intelligence to craft his botched closing argument

The lead defense attorney for convicted Fugees hip-hop star, Prakazrel “Bras” Michel, inappropriately relied on an experimental artificial intelligence program to craft his closing argument in Michel’s high-profile criminal trial last spring, according to Newly submitted summary To demand that Michel be retried.

Michele’s new lawyer from ArentFox Schiff said that the AI-generated closing argument created by Michele’s former lawyer, David Keener, was a resounding failure: “Keener’s closing argument made frivolous arguments, misunderstood the required elements, mixed up the schemes and ignored critical weaknesses in The government said the summary.

By using experimental artificial intelligence software to generate his closing argument, Keener botched “the most important part” of Michelle’s jury trial, the brief said.

Keener did not immediately respond to two emailed inquiries about the new brief. His co-counsel, Alon Israeli, did not immediately respond to a query sent via 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 US presidential administrations.

His new lawyers contend that Keener’s defense of Michelle was woefully inadequate, in part because he relied on artificial intelligence software EyeLevel.AI to craft his final argument in the complex, politically charged case, which included testimony from Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and a former U.S. prosecutor. Jeff Sessions.

“The AI ​​software failed Kenner, and Kenner failed Michelle,” the brief said. “The closing argument was incomplete and unhelpful, and a wasted opportunity that harmed the defense.”

Even more egregious, according to ArentFox’s brief, is that Kenner and Israeli “appear to have had” an undisclosed financial interest in a company called CaseFile Connect, which served as a “technology partner” for EyeLevel.AI.

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The brief asserts that Keener and Israel viewed Michele’s prosecution as an opportunity to promote CaseFile Connect, advancing their financial interests at Michele’s expense.

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

In an announcement accompanying the brief, ArentFox partner Peter Zeidenberg, a former Justice Department political corruption prosecutor, said his team first learned that Keener used AI software to write his closing argument from Michele’s former publicist, who told ArentFox that Keener said as much at the end of Michele’s trial. .

ArentFox was later found on May 10 unnoticed press release EyeLevel.AI issued a statement after Michel’s trial, praising “the first use of generative AI in a federal trial.”

The press release included a quote from Kenner, who said the AI ​​software “turned hours or days of legal work into seconds,” and described his use of the software as “a look into the future of how cases are managed.”

Prakazrel (Bras) Michel with his attorney David Keener in US District Court in Washington, on March 30, 2023. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Zeidenberg’s announcement also cited a LinkedIn post by an EyeLevel.AI executive who confirmed the software was used in Michele’s trial. “The AI ​​startup I’ve been working on is now the first use of AI in a federal criminal prosecution,” the executive wrote in the post. “The defense attorneys for Fugees star Bras Michel used our platform to conduct quick research and help craft closing arguments.”

EyeLevel.AI said in an emailed statement that Kenner and Israeli have no financial stake in its software. “EyeLevel’s AI for Legal is a powerful tool for human lawyers to make human decisions, but they do so faster and with much more information at their fingertips,” the company said in response to ArentFox’s criticism of its closing argument. “EyeLevel is able to ingest and understand complex legal texts based solely on the facts of the case as presented in court.”

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ArentFox said it determined that CaseFile Connect and Kenner’s law firm listed the same set of offices in Encino, California, as their primary address. The alternate address for CaseFile Connect, according to Zeidenberg’s announcement, was a New York City office associated with co-counsel Kenner Israeli.

ArentFox said CaseFile did not disclose its owners, but the overlap in titles, Zeidenberg said in his announcement, “appears to confirm that Mr. Keener and Mr. Israeli had a financial interest in the artificial intelligence software that Mr. Keener used to write the report.” Closing argument and then bragging about it after the trial.”

ArentFox’s lawyer said in the filing that his team contacted Kenner and Israeli through their attorneys but declined to speak with Michele’s new attorneys about the trial.

The motion seeking to retry Michelle also argued that the proceedings were tainted because the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar Cutelli of Washington, D.C., allowed jurors to hear that she and another federal judge had already concluded, in the context of the case. An exception to the attorney-client privilege for the crime of fraud is that Michel conspired with an alleged co-conspirator to commit some of the crimes charged by the government.

Those references, coupled with allegedly incorrect testimony about Michel’s guilt from the lead prosecutor in his case, turned the jury into a “rubber stamp,” the summary said.

The brief listed a series of alleged failures by Keener, as well as an alleged failure in Amnesty International’s closing argument. Among the most serious are ArentFox’s charges that Kenner, who is no expert in complex white-collar cases or lobbying regulations, outsourced trial preparation to inexperienced contract lawyers at an e-discovery firm co-founded by an Israeli, a longtime friend.

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This inadequate preparation was fatal to Keener’s attempts to question government witnesses, the brief said.