On Monday, Pras Michel, a former member of the Fugees music group convicted of laundering millions of funds to President Barack Obama’s campaign, demanded a new trial, claiming his defense team utilized artificial intelligence to write the jury’s final argument.
Reports show Michel, 50, was convicted in April of ten international conspiracy charges, including concealing material facts, falsifying records, tampering with witnesses, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
Michel’s new legal team filed a 113-page motion with a federal judge in DC, claiming that Michel’s previous attorney, David Kenner of Los Angeles, utilized litigation assistance tech throughout the trial, which resulted in Michel receiving ineffective assistance of counsel.
In court records, D.C. law firm ArentFox Schiff alleged that Kenner had written the closing argument with an unproven AI system, ignoring the most compelling evidence and confusing the charges against him. Kenner stated that the AI technology had cut legal work into seconds. Schiff said Kenner had an undeclared financial interest in the AI software and tested it throughout Michel’s trial to make a press release promoting it afterward.
In an affidavit accompanying the motion, former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg stated that Michel’s ex-publicist informed certain defense team members that Kenner had boasted that AI prepared their closing speech.
The EyeLevel news release from May quoted Kenner as calling the AI tool a game-changer for complex litigation, but it did not mention that the grand jury had convicted Pras Michel on all charges.
A report shows that EyeLevel.AI stated in an email that Kenner had no financial investment in its initiative.
The federal government accused Michel of funneling millions of dollars into twenty straw donations for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Michel also admitted to giving $800,000 of donor money to friends so that they could attend exclusive Obama events in Miami and D.C., where tickets cost around $40,000. He viewed it as “free money” that was his to do with as he pleased.
Since the initial allegations were filed in 2019, Michel has apparently stayed free on bond. Authorities haven’t scheduled a sentencing date, but he could get up to 20 years in prison.