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
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 779800
MIAMI, FL 33177