Pras Michel of the Fugees, convicted earlier this year on charges including witness tampering and conspiring to make straw campaign donations, is seeking a new trial, alleging his attorneys botched the first one by deploying experimental AI.
In a motion filed Monday night with a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Pras Michel of the Fugees and his new attorneys claim that his previous lawyer relied on an “experimental artificial intelligence program” during Michel’s trial earlier this year — leading to his losing the case. Now the former star, convicted in April of conspiring to make straw campaign donations, witness tampering, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China, seeks a do-over with fresh legal representation.
Michel’s D.C.-based attorneys at ArentFox Schiff argue that his former attorney, the Los Angeles-based David Kenner, “used an experimental artificial intelligence program to draft the closing argument,” and then “publicly boasted that the AI program ‘turned hours or days of legal work into seconds.’”
“It is now apparent that Kenner and his co-counsel appear to have had an undisclosed financial stake in the AI program, and they experimented with it during Michel’s trial so they could issue a press release afterward promoting the program — a clear conflict of interest,” write Michel’s new legal team.
The press release cited comes from AI firm EyeLevel, released in May, includes a photo of Michel while proudly announcing the company “made history” as the first use of generative AI in a federal trial. Kenner is quoted in the release as calling the company’s AI program “an absolute game changer for complex litigation.”
Federal prosecutors claim Pras Michel took about $88 million from Malaysian businessman Jho Low to enhance his US influence by donating to the Obama and Trump presidential campaigns, and later to influence the investigation of Low on fraud charges related to Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MBD.
Michel was convicted in April this year, but has been free on bond since charges were first filed against him in 2019. The judge overseeing the trial allowed him to remain free pending sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.
On Tuesday, he kicked off a Fugees reunion tour combined with the 25th anniversary of Lauryn Hill’s solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Over 20 shows across the United States and Canada are scheduled, but it’s unknown if Michel plans to be a part of them all.