California’s Legislature Passes The Rap Lyric Bill, Which Now Awaits The Governor’s Signature

Legislation that would limit the ability of prosecutors to use rap lyrics as evidence received final approval from California lawmakers on Monday, August 22. This is a groundbreaking legislative win against something that detractors claim can influence juries’ use of racial bias, according to Billboard.

A few days ago, AB 2799 was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate, and earlier today, they again voted in favor of a measure that had previously been adopted months before, removing the last obstacle remaining before they can pass the legislature. Gavin Newsom, the governor, will now get the measure, and many anticipate that he will sign it into law.

If adopted, the proposed law will only permit the use of song lyrics when  “prosecutors can show that they are directly relevant to the facts of the case and won’t ‘inject racial bias into the proceedings.'” Similar efforts were unsuccessful earlier this year in New York; they reached the state Senate but were never put to a vote in the Assembly.

In accordance with California law, courts must rule that musical evidence is of “minimum” value unless the state “can show that the expression was created near in time to the crime; bears a level of similarity to the crime, or includes ‘factual details’ about the crime are not otherwise publicly available.”

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