Buju Banton also known as Mark Myrie was sentenced in June 2011 to ten years in jail and five years probation in a US district court. Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. The prosecution’s case rested largely on the testimony of a paid confidential informant and Buju denied all charges.
Banton’s defense lawyer at the time David Markus immediately announced there would be an appeal. Banton’s defense team though was turned back when the United States Court of Appeals 11th circuit had rejected the appeal. This was immediately followed by an appeal by the prosecution to reverse Judge Moody’s decision to throw out a third conviction at Buju’s sentencing hearing: “knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense,” which carries an additional 5 year penalty. A three judge panel led by Chief Justice Joel Fredrick Dubina , alongside Circuit Judge Susan Harrell Black and Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus upheld the prosecutions appeal.
Banton’s team changed course and hired a new lawyer to defend the embattled Reggae artist. Enter Chokwe Lumumba an African American lawyer who is famous for many things in the realm of the US Civil Rights struggle but also having clients such as Tupac Shakur and the Black Panther Party. Soon after, a major development occurred when Terri Wright, the foreman of the jury that convicted Banton, seemed to state in an interview, in a Florida media outlet, that she had researched information on Banton during the trial (which was not permitted). This information was made public in October 2012. Lumumba and his team immediately requested a hearing on this and her computer be seized. Wright stated publicly that the reporter misunderstood her. Judge Moody determined that a hearing needed to be had which led to a February 19th evidentiary hearing.
According to attorneys that are close to the case, during the evidentiary hearing Judge Moody granted Buju’s legal team’s request and ordered that Terry Wright’s imputed drive be turned over to the defense team. In an attempt to find out more about what occurred Judge Moody heard from more jurors. They really did not add much to the hearing for they said that they did not hear about other jurors doing research.
This development could bring about a major shift in the case. If there is evidence on the computer that she did research during the trial, the judge may find her in contempt of court and will have to declare a mistrial if he determines that it may have impacted the outcome. Supposing that that occurs then this also implies that justice was not served at the original conviction and that the jury was tainted by improper research. According to an attorney close to the case “jurors are not allowed to do any research and Judge Moody told them that. “
If all the above happens Banton could be granted a mistrial and get another trial. At that trial Banton could plea not guilty and go to trial again or Banton could plead guilty and take a plea. Another scenario that could occur is that Judge Moody could leave the sentence as is and add five more years (arising from the prosecution’s successful appeal) and Banton could appeal that decision.
This is quite a dramatic turn of events, and all of this depends on what is found on Wright’s computer and Judge Moody’s ruling on what is found. There are many from the onset that felt the Reggae icon was entrapped and that the evidence against him in the original trial was not enough to prove such guilt. Tasha Rodney, Former Human Rights Officer for the Jamaican Ministry of Justice, reflects their perspective in this quote: “Given the serious issues of juror misconduct, justice requires that Buju is freed.” Stay tuned to YardieNews.com for more updates on this case.
Written by Jason Walker. Any questions on this article or the case you can send questions to my twitter account @jasonwalker_ or email firstname.lastname@example.org