Tag Archives: Appeal

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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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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Buju Banton Appeal Brief Filed

Team Gargamel is extremely pleased to announce that Buju’s attorney of record, David Oscar Markus of Markus & Markus Law, filed the Brief Of The Appellant, on behalf of Mark Anthony Myrie p/k/a Buju Banton, with the United States Court of Appeals earlier this morning. The gripping, 73-page document thoroughly picks apart the squirrely details surrounding the case of “The Recording Artist vs The Con Artist.”

The Appeal itself is broken down into three main arguments:

I.  AS BOTH A MATTER OF LAW AND FACT, MYRIE  IS NOT GUILTY OF CONSPIRACY TO DISTRIBUTE COCAINE OR TO AID AND ABET OTHERS IN USING THE TELEPHONE TO FACILITATE A COCAINE DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY

II.  IN THE ALTERNATIVE, THE GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS TO IMPLICATE MYRIE CONSTITUTED ENTRAPMENT BECAUSE MYRIE LACKED PREDISPOSITION TO PARTICIPATE IN A DRUG CONSPIRACY

III.  THIS CASE MUST BE DISMISSED DUE TO THE DISTRICT COURT’S VIOLATION OF THE SPEEDY TRIAL ACT

In addition to the brief, Mr. Markus has requested an oral argument, where 3 judges listen to the case, “because it will assist the Court in understanding the multiple legal issues presented in this case.” Only 10% of all appeal cases are granted this opportunity.

The Court of Appeals will decide whether to allow oral argument, and when all is said and done, will usually take between a month and a year to rule.

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The Caged Bird Sings Of Freedom

The caged bird sings

With a fearful trill

Of things unknown

But longed for still

And his tune is heard

On the distant hill

For the caged bird

Sings of freedom.

Dr. Maya Angelou (from I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings)

Freedom! Photo By: Robert Cooper

Greetings in the name of the Most High…

As you can imagine, the Gargamel Music Family’s entire world was shattered by the outcome of Buju’s trial. Two months have passed and the heartache has not eased at all. We lost a long, hard-fought battle but, alas, this legal war wages on. We remain confident in Buju’s innocence and vigilant in our fight for his ultimate freedom. There is nuff work to be done and the time has come for us to pick up the pieces and march forward in the struggle.

Buju’s strength and resolve throughout this painful ordeal has been nothing short of inspiring. He is a true soldier who continues to stand firm in his beliefs and will not be broken. He earnestly thanks his friends for life — the fans worldwide — for your unyielding support and only asks that you remember him in a positive light and continue to play his music in the days to come.

We encourage you to send uplifting letters to Buju at the address below:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1443397

CEN-4C1-UN01-01-001

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

If you feel like you want to top up B’s commissary, include a money order with all of the above information written on it (Mark’s legal name/docket number, etc…) and place it in the envelope with your letter. The guards who open the mail will make sure it’s added onto his account.

SENTENCING & APPEAL

We recently sat down with Buju’s attorney, David Oscar Markus, who took the time to school us on how the sentencing and appeal processes works so we have a better sense of what to expect.

The trial and sentencing judge, James Moody, Jr. still has yet to rule on either of the post trial motions filed by Markus back in February: 1) motion for judgement of acquittal  2) motion for a new trial. Markus filed a separate third motion for bond pending sentencing and appeal that he is also waiting to hear from the Court on.

Buju’s sentencing is currently scheduled for June 23rd. While Judge Moody can take other things into account, he still must abide by the current mandatory minimum drug sentencing guidelines, which based on the three convictions: 1) Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 or more kilograms of a substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine  2) knowing and intentionally possessing a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and 3) using the wires to facilitate a drug trafficking offense, bring the mandatory minimum in this case to 15 years.

  • After sentencing, Markus has 14 days to file a notice of appeal. Then he will order the trial transcripts, which will take about 30 days.
  • As soon as Markus gets the transcripts, he has 40 days to file a brief, which will contain his arguments.
  • The government gets 40 days to respond. Markus gets 40 days to reply.
  • Then the Court will decide whether to allow oral argument (where 3 judges listen to the case). Only 10% of all appeal cases are granted this opportunity.
  • After oral argument, the Court usually takes between a month and a year to rule.

Those who wish to donate funds toward the appeal may send a wire transfer to the official Buju Banton Defense Fund set up by his attorney:

Markus & Markus, PLLC
(Defense Fund for Buju Banton)
Citibank, N A
Coral Way Branch
1600 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145
ABA # 266086554
Account # 9118130472

You may also make a donation via Paypal. Just log in and direct monies to FREEBUJU@gmail.com

THE VOICE OF JAMAICA WILL NOT BE SILENCED!
The Gargamel Music Family remains steadfast in our efforts to promote and preserve the musical legacy of Buju Banton. As he reiterated in his Miami New Times cover story in January of this year, “they can lock the flesh but they can never lock the spirit of Rasta.” We intend to keep Buju’s spirit moving and his voice soaring — through music… And we already have several projects in development:

Buju Banton & Friends: Before The Dawn Concert DVD

We are working out the logistics to make the official DVD of the Before The Dawn Concert available for sale later this year. We are aware of the weak bootleg circulating on the streets and will deal with the culprits accordingly. In the meantime, we just ask that the fans hold on and support the real product when it comes out. It will definitely be worth the wait.

New Buju Banton Studio Album

While the General was out on bail and under house arrest he finished up some tracks for an album co-produced with longtime UK brethren, Blacker Dread. The pair previously worked together on the rousing 2010 anthem “Innocent” featured on Buju’s Grammy-winning album Before The Dawn (Gargamel Music). This new album will drop some time in 2012 on Gargamel Music, Inc.

Buju Banton Live Album

Team Gargamel has collected some amazing live material over the past few years and we plan to release the first Buju Banton live album some time in the near future.

Buju Banton Coffee Table Book

For the past few years we’ve been shooting with esteemed celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion (Too Bad and Rasta Got Soul album covers) to produce a photography book that visually captures the excitement and frenetic energy of Buju’s live performances along with some exclusive behind-the-scenes moments on the road with the artist and his band.

Gargamel Music Website

At long last, we are in the process of revamping the Gargamel Music website. www.GARGAMELMUSIC.com will be the hub for all things Buju Banton on the web. We will also be selling authentic Buju Banton merchandise, including the Official Free Buju T-Shirts, which are now available in a Limited Edition Red in addition to the original Black and Green color waves. And keep your eyes peeled for the brand new Buju Banton Logo Tee that will be available at relaunch!

The Gargamel Music Family Thanks You For Your Support!

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