NY lawmakers to introduce bill limiting use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials: Report
According to a new report from Rolling Stone, New York state senators Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-The Bronx) are introducing a new bill this week to limit the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials. The bill is titled "Rap Music on Trial," and Rolling Stone reports that it "would amend state criminal procedure law to strictly limit the admissibility of a defendant’s lyrics, videos, or other 'creative expression' as evidence shown to a jury."
Rolling Stone reviewed the draft legislation, and report that "the bill would set a new, high bar compelling prosecutors to show 'clear and convincing evidence' that a defendant’s rap song or other creative work, is 'literal, rather than figurative or fictional.'" Hoylman and Bailey also reportedly argued that using rap lyrics as evidence creates an unfair racial bias. ”Hoylman says no one believes Johnny Cash 'shot a man in Reno just to watch him die' or that David Byrne is a 'psycho killer,' but over and over, rap musicians involved in criminal cases have their music used against them," the article reads.
Rolling Stone also spoke to Erik Nielson, University of Richmond professor and co-author of Rap on Trial, who said the law "would certainly be groundbreaking." Nielson told Rolling Stone that, while researching for the book with co-author and University of Georgia law professor Andrea Dennis, he discovered "hundreds" of cases where rap lyrics and videos were introduced in criminal courtrooms.
Neilson also pointed out that the ACLU has been fighting the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials for years, and the Rolling Stone article also points out that Drakeo the Ruler's lyrics were used against him in court, which led to Drakeo serving a three-year sentence. Read more here.