New Jersey Supreme Court To Consider Admissiblity Of Violent Rap Lyrics In Criminal Trial

The New Jersey Supreme Court will soon consider whether violent rap lyrics from a criminal defendant should be admissible in a trial.

Next week, the New Jersey Supreme Court will consider whether the violent rap lyrics of a criminal defendant should be admissible in his trial for attempted Murder.

Vonte Skinner, the defendant in a 2008 trial for his involvement in a 2005 shooting had 13 pages of lyrics read allowed by the prosecution that were composed before the shooting. The lyrics also did not mention the victim or specific details of the crime.

In 2012, Skinner's conviction was overturned by an appellate court that ruled the lyrics shouldn't have been admissible in the trial. That majority opinion stated, "We have a significant doubt about whether the jurors would have found defendant guilty if they had not been required to listen to the extended reading of these disturbing and highly prejudicial lyrics." The state would later appeal the ruling and send it to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Aside from his lyrics, evidence in the '08 trial was largely based on testimony from several witnesses who changed their stories multiple times. Skinner was later found guilty for attempted murder and sentenced to three decades in prison.

Skinner's case and recent attention around the matter of rap lyrics in court cases was brought about in a recent New York Times op-ed that stated his case is not the first. In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey found that in 18 cases in which courts considered the admissibility of rap related content as evidence, lyrics were allowed in nearly 80 percent of the cases. They also say there is no evidence Skinner committed any of the criminal acts he wrote about.

The NY Times opinion piece goes on to argue that no other form of fictional expression is used or exploited in court and often times the prosecution presents lyrics as an autobiography of the defendant.

Last summer, the Supreme Court of Nevada upheld the admissibility of rap lyrics as evidence in a first-degree murder case. On occasion, appellate courts have reversed convictions after citing that prosecution misrepresented the lyrics as evidence.

RELATED: Crooked I Says Rappers Should Have Pride In Their Lyrics



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  • officer ricky

    9 outta 10 rappers be lying like fuck

  • Fish

    This is absolute bullshit. BUT, how awesome would it be if Officer Ricky got a conviction off the back of some made up bullshit he said in one of fairytale songs??

  • Anonymous

    This screams BS to me

  • Ramon

    I'm sick of people taking about lord fucking "I'm a racist cunt" jamar! Dude has totally lost my resect as a human being! With that being said he's an ill mc, but he's tarnished that now with his ignorant bullshit racist comments! How fucking dare he say what he says about white dudes! If that was em/yelawolf/Macklemore/ apathy/evidence they'd be fucking hung drawn and slaughtered if they'd of said something like that about our black brothers!........BUT they've got more respect than that

  • Anonymous

    There's a new group call cb4 wit: officer ricki. wale. plies. n gun play

    • Will $teel

      ...dont get my hopes up like that. Wale n ross suck but plies n gunplay alone make that group fuckin ill as fuck bihh

  • Anonymous

    old rich white ppl hate young black ppl with a voice... thats what this screams.

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