New York Lawmakers Propose Bill To Ban Rap Lyrics As Evidence

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New York State is the first to propose this into law.

New York State legislators have asked prosecutors to refrain from using the lyrics of rap musicians against them in court, citing the freedom of creative expression and the fact that there are frequently preconceived views about the genre in the first place.

The Senate heard testimony on Wednesday from Sen. Bran Hoylman and Sen. Jamaal Baily of New York City, who proposed legislation known as “rap music on trial” in the Senate. Following his conviction on various charges of racketeering, weapons violations, and narcotics trafficking over two years ago, Brooklyn rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was sentenced to two years in jail.

Prosecutors, according to Democrats, utilized 6ix9ine’s songs to draw attention to his involvement with the street group Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods – a move that has placed him in danger of being executed while in prison. Tekashi 6ix9ine, whose actual name is Daniel Hernandez, claimed he made the decision to assist with authorities after the release of a racketeering indictment that named him as a gang member.

Despite the fact that Hernandez might have received a 47-year jail term, the prosecution suggested a less severe punishment in return for his cooperation.

“Art is a form of creative expression, not a roadmap for illegal schemes,” says the author. Although prosecutors in New York and across the country have attempted to use rap music lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, a practice that was upheld this year by a Maryland court, Hoylman said, referring to Hernandez and the rapper Lawrence Montague, whose lyrics were also used in Hernandez’s murder trial of an Annapolis man.

A 50-year jail term was handed down to Montague for the deadly shooting, as well as for the possession of a handgun. An appeals court ruled last year that Montague’s lyrics were admissible in court because they “had a direct relationship to the specifics of an alleged crime,” according to the court’s decision.

If passed, the law would not prohibit the use of lyrics in the courtroom entirely. It would be necessary for prosecutors to affirmatively establish that the evidence is admissible via the use of clear and compelling evidence.

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