Three days after legally changing his name, currently incarcerated rapper Shyne will head to court for the first day of his civil court trial.
Attorney Oscar Michelen will represent the former Bad Boy rapper when he appears before Judge Howard Ruditzky tomorrow (March 7) at Kings County Supreme Court in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Shyne, born Jamaal Barrow, officially changed his name to Moses Michael Leviy on Saturday (March 4).
The rapper is currently serving 10 years on various charges for his role in a 1999 shooting at Club New York.
In November 2004, a judge granted a preliminary injunction that froze all of Shyne’s assets, including a $500,000 recording advance he received after signing a five-album deal with Island Def Jam.
The decision also allowed Shyne to collect $100,000 for past and current attorney fees and family expenses.
The injunction was granted under a special prong of the Son of Sam law, which prevents inmates from profiting from their crimes.
Michelen, who has made a motion to free the frozen money belonging to Shyne so he can defend the rapper, will argue that the law is unconstitutional in Shyne’s case because it interferes with the lyricist’s right to an attorney, as well as his freedom of association, meaning he can’t contract with recording companies because of the possibility of frozen assets.
As a result of the freezing, Shyne, who has been without legal representation for more than a year, is unable to financially support his family, including his mother and grandmother, Michelen contends.
“The Son of Sam law was designed to accomplish two goals: prevent convicted felons from profiting from their crimes and protect the victims of crime by securing assets so that they may be available to pay any judgment won in a civil lawsuit,” said Michelen, who will also dispute a motion to hold Shyne in contempt of court for spending about $185,000 after the injunction was granted.
“The court’s decision and the preliminary injunction are serving neither purpose. In fact, they are doing the exact opposite because Mr. Barrow never profited from the incident and the in junction effectively guarantees that he will not be able to earn assets that could be used to pay the plaintiffs should they win their lawsuit against him.
“The law also should not be used to prevent a person from having access to an attorney of their choosing,” Michelen continued. “Mr. Barrow’s right to an attorney and the presentation of a defense overrides the right of the plaintiffs to freeze these assets.”