Courts are Allowing Rap Lyrics as Evidence in Criminal Trials
By Scott T. Sterling
Notice to the rappers of the world: be careful what you write about, it could have you behind bars instead of penning them—even if the lyrics have no direct correlation to the alleged crime.
A recent op-ed in the New York Times points out how one Vonte Skinner was convicted in a New Jersey courtroom of attempted murder of a rival drug dealer in large part based on extremely violent rap lyrics he’d written. The lyrics were found in his girlfriend’s car when he was arrested in 2005 for “allegedly shooting Lamont Peterson multiple times at close range.”
In 2012, a New Jersey state court of appeals was moved to overturn the 30-year conviction on the grounds that entering the lyrics (13 pages worth that were read out loud to the jury) as evidence was “highly prejudicial,” resulting in Skinner getting a new trial.