Rap Lyrics as EvidenceNew Jersey's Supreme court has ruled that a new trial will be held for a man who was convicted of attempted murder. According to the ruling, a lower court's decision to admit rap lyrics as evidence against the accused man was inappropriate. During the man's previous attempted murder trial, the prosecution had used 13 pages of violent music lyrics written by the man as evidence to convict him.

Bob Marley Did Not Shoot the Sheriff

The attempted murder allegations related to a 2005 shooting incident that paralyzed a man in New Jersey. Allegedly, the shooting happened over an argument about money and guns in Willingboro. The man was ultimately convicted of attempted murder in 2008, but the case was appealed and eventually made its way up to New Jersey's highest court.

The Supreme Court justice who wrote the opinion on the appeal said that no one would ever believe that Bob Marley actually "Shot the Sheriff," nor would anyone believe that Poe actually buried a dead man under his floorboards. Ultimately, the judge said that the defendant's music lyrics should not be treated any differently than Marley's lyrics or Edgar Allan Poe's extremely graphic stories.

The judge did say that in previous cases rap lyrics have been used to convict criminals, but only in cases where the lyrics bore an actual resemblance to the alleged crime. The justice also mentioned that the accused man's rap lyrics were written approximately five years prior to the shooting and paralyzing of the man, therefore they were not a sufficient indicator of his guilt nor were they appropriate to be used as evidence in the trial.

Defense Counsel Pleased with the Ruling

The man's criminal defense attorneys expressed that they were happy with the Supreme Court's ruling. They said that the court made the correct decision on the matter because their client's music lyrics did not have any kind of connection with the alleged shooting incident. His counsel further added that the previous admission of the lyrics as evidence was done only for the express purpose of prejudicing the jury against the man.