”I Shot The Sheriff!”

… but i did’nt shoot no deputy…

this is an interesting court decision about whether an artist’s work, in this case a rap song, is admissible as evidence that the artist did what they are accused of doing… Muadhdhin Bey-Cousin, a rapper, maintains he was wrongly arrested, convicted and jailed… he is suing for damages… counsel defending the officers are(is?) trying to submit song lyrics as evidence of a truthful depiction of the incidents that led to his arrest… the judge ruled that artistic product cannot be used to determine truth or falsehood of a question at issue, since the very nature of art is to embellish on experience to transform it into something transcendent… therefore, there is a high burden on the part of those wishing to submit art content as evidence that there is strong reason to believe the artwork in question is factual and not embellished…

… among the examples cited was the Bob Marley song that is the title of this post…

… from the decision:

As a society, we have decided to encourage free expression in all its forms. The Court will not adopt a rule that might undermine that goal. It therefore adopts a rule that presumes that artists tell stories, even when they draw inspiration from reality. Officers Cherry and Powell have not overcome that burden, so the Court will grant Mr. Bey-Cousin’s Motion and preclude evidence of his lyrics…1


  1. Wolson, Judge Joshua, Bey-Cousin v. Powell, via Reason.com [return]