Pras Michel Cites AI Used In Former Attorneys’ Closing Argument As Grounds For New Trial

The Fugees member was found guilty of campaign finance and foreign influence charges.

Pras Michel is reportedly seeking a new trial, claiming his defense lawyer relied on artificial intelligence to create their closing argument for the jury.

A motion filed on Monday (October 16) with a federal judge in Washington D.C. has The Fugees member’s new attorneys arguing that David Kenner, his former Los Angeles-based lawyer, used fledgling technology at critical points during Michel’s trial, which they say contributed to “prejudicial ineffective assistance of counsel.”

According to the motion filed by Michel’s new defense team, ArentFox Schiff, Kenner “used an experimental artificial intelligence (AI) program to draft the closing argument, ignoring the best arguments and conflating the charged schemes, and he 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.”

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Former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg wrote in a declaration accompanying the motion that “Michel’s prior publicist also informed members of the current defense team that Kenner proudly stated at the end of the trial words to the effect of ‘AI wrote our closing.’”

Michel was convicted of orchestrating a scheme to channel funds from a now-fugitive Malaysian financier through straw donors to support Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. Furthermore, he was alleged to have engaged in efforts to obstruct a Justice Department investigation and exert influence over a China-related extradition case during the Trump administration.

The courtroom drama captured the public's attention, thanks to the presence of prominent witnesses such as Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Throughout the trial, Michel took the stand in his defense, enduring a grueling cross-examination by prosecutors.

Michel faced ten charges, including conspiracy, acting as an agent of a foreign government, witness tampering, and falsifying campaign finance records. Prosecutors alleged that he conspired with Malaysian businessman Jho Low, aiming to exert influence over the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The charges highlighted Michel's alleged involvement in activities spanning two presidential terms.

While testifying on the witness stand, Michel revealed that he had received a substantial sum of $20 million from Jho Low within nine months in 2012. Michel claimed that the purpose of this payment was to assist Low in obtaining a photograph with President Obama. Although Michel admitted to utilizing a portion of the funds to cover the expenses of three friends attending two political fundraisers for Obama's 2012 campaign, he vehemently denied carrying out these actions under Low's explicit instructions.

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