Category Archives: United States vs Buju Banton

Third Trial On The Horizon For Buju?!

bantonbymannionInternational reggae icon Buju Banton (aka Mark Myrie), is scheduled to appear at a hearing in Tampa federal court this Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The GRAMMY-winning artist, who was convicted on trumped up drug and gun charges two years ago, could find out once and for all  if Judge James S. Moody, Jr. will grant his request for a new trial based on juror misconduct. Judge Moody called the hearing to address the issue of seemingly rogue juror Terri Wright, whose ensuing antics have caused multiple delays in this curiously enduring case.

  • October 11, 2012  Wright, an African American woman who served as jury foreperson during Banton’s second trial in 2011, is featured in a  New Times article, where she openly admits to conducting research during the trial — even though the judge had explicitly ordered jurors not to. “I would get in the car, just write my notes down so I could remember, and I would come home and do the research,” Wright was quoted as saying.
  • lumumbaOctober 26, 2012 — Banton’s newly appointed legal team, led by esteemed Civil Rights attorney and Jackson, Mississippi Mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, files a motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct.
  • December 20, 2012  At the hearing, Wright tries to distance herself from her statements sweeneyin the paper saying the writer, Chris Sweeney, misquoted her and that she actually did the research after the trial was over. But Sweeney is in the courtroom and has a copy of the original recording with him. The tape is played and proves Sweeney’s reporting to be legit. Moody questions the other jurors and discovers more potential misconduct. Benoit testifies that she overheard a white female juror say that she did research during the trial (Wright is black).
  • January 4, 2013 Judge Moody widens his probe into juror misconduct and orders that a prosecutor-james-preston-2_w370U.S. Marshal seize Wright’s home computers. A few days later he rescinds that order after Banton prosecutor James Preston, Jr. raises “privacy and due process” concerns on behalf of Wright. Instead, Moody instructs Wright to bring her hard drive to a hearing in February and suggests she hire an attorney to represent her interests. Moody also subpoenas the remaining eight jurors.
  • February 19, 2013 — Instead of cooperating with Judge Moody’s request, Wright’s newlori_palmieri attorney, Lori Palmieri, a former state prosecutor, objects to Wright’s hard drive being searched at all, saying there is no evidence that Wright violated Moody’s instructions. Judge Moody maintains that the computer hard drive must be turned over but says he will also issue an order prohibiting the expert from releasing to attorneys any information unrelated to the allegation that the juror conducted Internet research about Banton’s case during the trial. The other jurors called to the hearing give conflicting information but one person confirms that Wright’s alleged violation was actually discussed in the jury room.
  • March 1, 2013 — Judge Moody issues an order that computer forensics expert Larry Daniel forensic expert larry danielcan examine Wright’s hard drive activity from the period of Feb 14, 2011 to March 11, 2011 and look for footprints of the following 21 search terms: Pinkerton. Doctrine. Mark. Anthony. Myrie. Buju. Banton. Music. Reggae. Gun. Charge. Guilt. Verdict. Mistrial. Conspiracy. Cocaine. Narcotic. Drug. Possession. Hung. Jury.
  • March 28, 2013 — The computer forensics expert releases his report. While he has found a trail of 1.6 million internet history records none pertains to the timeframe under scrutiny. He also reveals that “The hard drive delivered to me for foresnsic imaging was a full size hard drive from a desktop or tower computer.” 
  • March 31, 2013 — Team Buju immediately springs into action— filing a motion contending that Wright defied Court orders and turned over the wrong hard drive! The lawyers point to a March 26 article in the  Tampa Bay Times , which quotes Wright’s attorney, Lori Palmieri as saying her client only had one computer. “It was a laptop and she brought it, end of story…” Palmieri had told the paper.
  • April 4, 2013 — Buju Banton’s attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, conducts an exclusive interview with the Free BujuJamaica Observer newspaper and unceremoniously slams the Terri Wright Sideshow: “Her attorney stated in court that she surrendered the hard drive of a laptop computer. She said she did research on the case three weeks after the trial. The expert found no evidence that she did any research at all on that hard drive and found that it was not the hard drive of a laptop but the hard drive of a desktop. We are of the firm opinion that she did not submit the hard drive for a laptop computer,” Lumumba told the Observer. He also pointed to other inconsistencies in Wright’s david markusstatements during jury selection for the trial. “It was also revealed that she had served on seven juries, but she said she only served on one jury in a civil matter. She is a seasoned juror. If his lawyer (who was then David Markus) had known that, she would have been rejected. She changed the syntax of her statement because at first she said she served on juries then changed and said jury. It was very misleading,” said the lawyer.
  • April 16, 2013 — Judge Moody issues an order for a third hearing on June 26th to question juror Terri Wright about the findings in the forensic expert‘s report.  The Court may also question Wright about the other issues raised in Defendant’s Motions For A New Trial. Buju is also expected to be in attendance.

Official Court Order Below:

This cause comes before the Court on Defendant Mark Myrie’s Second Motion for New Trial [Dkt. 403] and Defendant’s Amended Motion for Order finding Jury Misconduct and the granting of a New Trial [Dkt. 451]. An EVIDENTIARY HEARING is hereby scheduled on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2013, at 9:00 A.M. in Courtroom 13A at the U. S. Sam Gibbons Courthouse, 801 North Florida Avenue, Courtroom #13A, Tampa, Florida 33602. (Time reserved: One Hour)

The purpose for this hearing is to question juror Terri Wright about the expert report prepared by Larry E. Daniel. The Court may question Terri Wright about other issues raised in Defendant’s Motions for New Trial. The Court will subpoena juror Terri Wright to testify at the hearing. Terri Wright will be notified in the subpoena of her right to counsel and will be requested to produce any and all information, whether written or electronic, that was obtained in relation to the trial, parties, attorneys, or witnesses, prior to the discharge of the jury. The U.S. Marshal’s Office is directed to serve the subpoena on Terri Wright. Defendant Mark Myrie, who is detained, shall be produced for the hearing.

DONE and ORDERED in Tampa, Florida on April 16, 2013.

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Free Buju Letter Writing Crusade Takes Off!

Team Banton Collects Letters Of Support From Around The World

Team Banton Collecting Letters Of Support From Around The World

Greetings friends, fans and freedom fighters! The Gargamel Music Family is pleased to announce that the Buju Banton Letter Writing Campaign to the Supreme Court has gotten off to an enthusiastic start. In just a few short weeks since launching the crusade at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Banton’s attorney Chokwe Lumumba  reports that well over a thousand signed letters of support from around the world have already arrived at  his law offices in Mississippi.

Buju Back In Court December 20th

Buju Back To Court December 20th

There is also an online petition circulating on change.org but several people have experienced technical difficulties so we still encourage you to write a heartfelt letter of your own (or print out the template below), sign and snail mail it to Mr. Lumumba before the deadline on Thursday, January 31, 2013.

Banton will next appear in a Tampa federal court on Thursday, December 20th for an evidentiary hearing called by Judge James Moody, Jr. to survey whether or not the jurors who unwittingly put the GRAMMY-winning Reggae star behind bars “were exposed to extrinsic information” during the second trial.

Prosecutor James Preston, Jr. Venomously Pursued The Reggae Icon

Prosecutor James Preston, Jr. Venomously Pursued The Reggae Icon

One juror, Terri Wright, already admitted to conducting  “research” on aspects of the case, which could be grounds for a new trial (Buju’s third on the same charges). At the upcoming hearing, prosecutor James Preston, Jr. and defense attorney Lumumba will have an opportunity to interview Wright, along with three other jurors (Frank Arnone, Janice Benoit, Steven Boyce) under oath. Judge Moody will then make his ruling.

~~~FREE BUJU LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN~~~

United States Supreme Court
c/o Attorney Chokwe Lumumba
440 N. Mill St.
Jackson, Mississippi 39202
 
Hon. Supreme Court Justices:
 
I am writing this letter in support of Mark Anthony Myrie (Buju Banton).
 
Mr. Myrie has filed a petition in this court seeking review and reversal of drug, conspiracy, weapons possession and phone facilitation convictions occurring in the U.S.District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.
 
The convictions of Mr. Myrie are outrageous and unjust. Mr. Myrie was the victim of a concerted U.S. government effort to entrap, conducted by a corrupt informant who was paid 3.5 million dollars by the government for his services in various cases over the years.
 
Mark Myrie is a Grammy Award winning reggae artiste from Jamaica. He has never been convicted of a crime prior to the present case. He has helped feed numerous hungry children in his country and otherwise contributed to worthy causes in Jamaica and elsewhere. He is supported by hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions worldwide.
 
I ask this honorable court to review his case and grant Mark Myrie the relief he deserves.

***

Please Send Letters To Attorney Lumumba By

JANUARY 31, 2013!

Free Buju
 
**Special thanks to the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee for your tireless efforts to get the word out about this case. Your work is truly appreciated by the entire Gargamel Music Family.
**Extra special thanks to attorney David Oscar Markus for your continued support of Buju and the new legal team. We love you!

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Banton Defense Team Launches Letter Writing Campaign To Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

The legal team for GRAMMY Award-winning reggae star, Buju Banton, has  launched a new letter writing campaign — this time aimed at the Supreme Court – to build further awareness about the highly controversial federal drug case that landed the beloved Jamaican music icon behind bars.

The letter writing campaign comes on the heels of the Free Buju Press Conference that was held early last week on Capitol Hill. Banton’s new defense attorney, Chokwe Lumumba, organized the Washington D.C. event in conjunction with the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee to formally announce the filing of a petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court.

Dr. Carolyn Cooper Speaks @ Free Buju Press Event in D.C.

The panel of special guest speakers included GRAMMY Award-winning reggae artist and producer, Stephen Marley; Dr. Carolyn Cooper, author and lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica; Brother Aula Sumbry, radio host and Chairman of the NAACP Prison Committee in Trenton, New Jersey; attorney and progressive policy advocate, Nkechi Taifa; longtime Banton friend and collaborator, Gramps Morgan; Salim Adafo, Vice-Chairman of the National Black United Front; and Banton co-counsel, Imhotep Alkebu-Lan.

Legal Eagle Chokwe Lumumba

Lumumba also addressed the attendees. “I think he is a political prisoner,” said the veteran legal eagle. “There is a generational gap between the struggle to free political prisoners and the struggles of young people. [Buju is helping] to keep the act of freeing political prisoners a relevant one to all generations that exist right now.”

Banton is currently housed at the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida, where he awaits a decision from trial judge James S. Moody, Jr. who is deliberating on two motions recently filed by his lawyers: 1) Motion for reconsideration of sentence  2) Second motion for new trial (due to possible juror misconduct).

Mr. Lumumba, the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee and the Gargamel Music Family are asking all friends, fans and activists around the world to stand in solidarity with the ongoing movement to Free Buju by writing a letter to the Supreme Court today. All letters should be sent to Lumumba’s office:
 
United States Supreme Court
C/O Attorney Chokwe Lumumba
440 N. Mill St.
Jackson, Mississippi 39202
 
Hon. Supreme Court Justices:
 
I am writing this letter in support of Mark Anthony Myrie (Buju Banton).
 
Mr. Myrie has filed a petition in this court seeking review and reversal of drug, conspiracy, weapons possession and phone facilitation convictions occurring in the U.S.District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.
 
The convictions of Mr. Myrie are outrageous and unjust. Mr. Myrie was the victim of a concerted U.S. government effort to entrap, conducted by a corrupt informant who was paid 3.5 million dollars by the government for his services in various cases over the years.
 
Mark Myrie is a Grammy Award winning reggae artiste from Jamaica. He has never been convicted of a crime prior to the present case. He has helped feed numerous hungry children in his country and otherwise contributed to worthy causes in Jamaica and elsewhere. He is supported by hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions worldwide.
 
I ask this honorable court to review his case and grant Mark Myrie the relief he deserves.
 ——————————————–
 
::SIGN::
::WATCH::
::BUY::

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Reggae Icon Buju Banton Takes Fight For Freedom To Capitol Hill

Free Buju Press Event In Washington D.C. on Monday, Nov. 5th

On Monday, November 5th, activists, educators, friends and supporters of GRAMMY Award-winning Reggae star Buju Banton (née Mark Anthony Myrie), will gather for a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to officially announce the filing of a petition for a Writ of Certiorari.

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are convinced that Mark Anthony Myrie was unjustly targeted and convicted in the United States court in Florida,” explains Banton’s new attorney, Chokwe Lumumba. “We request that the highest court of the land review this injustice and overturn it.” He adds, “We are determined to fight for Myrie’s freedom until he is vindicated.”

Lumumba Once Represented The Late, Great Rapper Tupac Shakur

Lumumba, in association with the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee and the Gargamel Music Family, is organizing the press conference. Invited guest speakers include national head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous; civil rights activist, actor and comedian Dick Gregory; Dr. Carolyn Cooper, author and lecturer at University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica; Brother Aula Sumbry, a radio host and Chairman of the NAACP Prison Committee in Trenton, New Jersey; GRAMMY Award-winning Reggae artist, Stephen Marley, and many more.

The icon Banton was convicted last year for “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute” and “using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense,” federal offenses that together carry a 10-year penalty. A third conviction, “knowing and intentionally carrying a firearm to further a drug offense” (5 year minimum), was thrown out at his sentencing hearing. The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed that decision, however, and Banton will be re-sentenced in a Tampa courthouse early next week.

The Free Buju Press Conference will be held at The Methodist Building (100 Maryland Ave. N.E.) — located across the street from the Supreme Court — at 1pm sharp. Fans in the Washington Metropolitan Area are welcome to come and show their support.

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Banton Back To Pinellas County Facility Awaiting Re-Sentencing

pinellas

BB Bounced Back To PCJ

Reggae icon Buju Banton has been moved from FCI Miami and is now back at Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, FL, where he awaits a re-sentencing hearing with trial Judge James Moody, Jron Tuesday, October 30th.

Fans and friends can write to him at the new address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1519831

CEN-6C2-UN02-04-004

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

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Never Give Up The Fight… Attorneys For Banton File Motion For New Trial

By now you’ve all heard how the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit basically disregarded the Appeal filed on behalf of Grammy-winning Reggae music icon, Buju Banton, and upheld his controversial conviction for “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute” and “using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.”

Adding insult to injury, the overwhelmingly conservative three judge panel led by Chief Justice Joel Fredrick Dubina (a George H. W. Bush appointee), alongside  Circuit Judge Susan Harrell Black (another George H. W. Bush appointee) and Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus (a default Bill Clinton appointee), also reversed trial judge James Moody Jr.‘s common sense decision to throw out a third conviction at Buju’s sentencing hearing last summer: “knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense,” which carries an additional 5 year penalty.

It clearly didn’t matter much to Dubina, Black or Marcus that Buju had no priors and has never been involved in the drug trade. Nor did it matter that he did not participate in any negotiations nor was he present at the deal that actually did go down between well-paid government snitch Alexander Johnson and former co-defendants James Mack and Ian Thomas.

As defense attorney David Oscar Markus recently pointed out “a good man is in jail for talking a big game.” He’s also paying the price for simply fighting the powers that be. You may recall that after the first trial eneded in a mistrial, prosecutor James Preston Jr., venemously amended the original indictment, tweaking the gun charge and adding two additional charges, in his attempt to make something stick… And it worked. All this for a man who has spent the last 20 years of his life making incredibly uplifting music for his legion of loyal fans around the world. War on drugs? We think not… This is a war on Buju Banton.

Bouncing back from the latest blow to their client, late yesterday afternoon, the legal team for Banton filed a Renewed Motion For A New Trial with the district Court in Tampa. The 27-page motion duly requests a new trial on all counts, or alternately, a new trial on the gun count only. To be clear, if no new trial is granted by Judge Moody, Buju will automatically be sentenced to an additional 5 years on top to the 10 he is currently serving. Team Banton has nothing to lose and everything to gain by filing this latest motion and we pray that the request is granted.

In the meantime, fans can take solace in knowing that Buju is indeed holding firm despite the loss of the appeal and the harrowing prospect of doing even more time. He is reading avidly, has some access to a guitar (there are 2 or 3 in the facility) and is writing new songs, plus he is even teaching a class at FCI Miami, where he is presently being housed. We encourage you to keep him in your prayers, continue writing those letters of encouragement, and, if you should feel so inclined, drop a little something on his commissary.

MARK ANTHONY MYRIE – 86700-004

FCI MIAMI

FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION

P.O. BOX 779800

MIAMI, FL 33177

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Banton Legal Team Blasts Back In Final Appeal Brief

Lawyers for Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, recently filed a final brief in response to the government’s response to their appeal as well as the government’s own appeal of Judge James Moody‘s decision to throw out the gun charges during sentencing in Banton’s controversial criminal case. For a quick overview of the case and these latest arguments, check out the article posted by writer Chris Sweeney, who also penned the recent Miami New Times cover story on Buju Banton. Or feel free to read the entire Reply Brief of the Appellant and Response Brief of the Cross Appellee. It goes without saying that David Oscar Markus and his team at Markus & Markus Law left no stone unturned.

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Miami New Times Cover Story Proclaims Buju Banton’s Innocence

Buju Banton Is Innocent

Once again, Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, is featured on the cover of this week’s Miami New Times. The story, “Buju Banton Is Innocent,” penned by staff writer Chris Sweeney, details the  events leading up to the Reggae star’s arrest, and duly picks apart the government’s case, which hinged on the testimony of career criminal, Alexander Johnson.

A convicted drug trafficker turned government informant, Johnson worked vigorously for months to set Buju up, bringing his potential “big catch” to the attention of pals at the DEA and overzealous prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney James C. Preston, Jr. who he has been working hand-in-hand with for the last 10 years.

Thoroughly researched and incredibly well written, this compelling feature is the first to paint a fuller picture of Buju’s life’s work and the seedy circumstances surrounding the government’s case. Sweeney writes:

“The saga sheds light on how far the government will go and how dirty it will play to win the few big battles left in the long-ago failed War on Drugs. Now, while one of the most successful and controversial Jamaican artists — a man who won a Grammy for best reggae album a year ago — sits in a Miami penitentiary, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether unconstitutional tactics were used to nail a man who had no known criminal record.”

A sidebar piece in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times takes a closer look at government snitch Johnson, and breaks down the millions of dollars he’s made off the backs of US taxpayers, while working as a confidential informant. Sweeney writes:

“But Johnson isn’t a U.S. citizen, and he’ll never be one due to his felony-laden criminal record. Yet he has managed to earn nearly $3.5 million of taxpayer money while working as a confidential informant. He’s a persistent and crafty snitch who used booze and claims of music industry contacts to lure Buju, a Grammy-winning reggae artist, into environments he may otherwise have avoided.” 

The entire story is available online now. Hard copies will begin circulating in South Florida on Wednesday evening. Big respect to Chris Sweeney and The Miami New Times for making sure the full regarding this case is told.

!!FREE BUJU!!

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Buju Banton Graces Cover Of French Magazine

Buju Got Reggae Vibes

The Gargamel Music Family is pleased to share that Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, is featured on the cover of the popular French magazine, Reggae Vibes, available on European newsstands now. The accompanying story, written by veteran UK journalist, John Masouri, takes an in-depth look at the controversial case that ultimately landed the beloved Reggae star in a federal penitentiary, and more importantly, pays homage to the artist’s 20+ year career in music that has touched the lives of so many people around the world.

“I chose to do a cover with Buju to tell the truth about him, about his musical career, and about his trial,” explains the magazine’s long time editor, Gilbert Pytel. “Buju is one of the best Reggae artists in the world. People should not forget this! The Reggae massive in France waits for his comeback.”

Back in the United States, Buju is also featured in Hip-Hop Weekly‘s new special issue, “Hip-Hop Behind Bars.” The piece brings readers up to speed on the case and impending appeal, which was filed by the artist’s attorneys late last year.

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Gargamel Focused On Freedom In 2012

We Pray For Freedom In 2012

Greetings in the name of the Most High! As we mark the end of 2011, Buju Banton and the entire Gargamel family would like to take a moment to thank the fans around the world for your unwavering support during these difficult times. Indeed, it is not an easy road, but it helps to know that we are not walking it alone.

Buju has been receiving all of  your correspondence and apologizes for not being able to answer every single letter personally. Keep them coming, still, as they are a true source of upliftment in the midst of so much uncertainty.

While we patiently await a final ruling on Buju’s case from the United States Court of Appeals, Team Gargamel remains hopeful, prayerful and focused on freedom… We encourage you to do the same.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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