Tag Archives: James Preston

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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Buju Banton Trial Date Rescheduled For September 13th — New Album To Drop On September 28th

After months of senseless delays, Jamaican music star Buju Banton will finally have his day in court. The Honorable Judge James S. Moody, Jr. has reset the trial start date for Monday, September 13, 2010 at the Sam M. Gibbons US District Courthouse in Tampa, Florida. This is the fourth time the trial has been rescheduled so only time will tell if it will actually convene as planned.

In other Buju Banton news, Gargamel Music, Inc. is prepping the release of his ninth studio album, Before The Dawn, which is set to drop in North America on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. The 10 powerful tracks that comprise this very special project are some of the more prophetic songs written by Banton since his extraordinary entry into the music business over twenty years ago.

Recorded mostly at his Gargamel Music studio in Kingston, Jamaica, Before The Dawn literally pierces the soul with traditional roots, easy rock and especially heartfelt reggae. The album’s unofficial anthem “Innocent” strikes a highly personal chord that will resonate deeply with longtime Buju Banton fans.

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Shocking Details About Government Snitch In Banton Case Revealed!

Banton Battles Back

Thursday, March 4th proved to be a revelatory day for Team Banton, who appeared in US District Court in Tampa, Florida for two hearings. The first proceeding at 8:30am was handled by the judge who will actually be overseeing the trial, Judge James Moody. After conferring with the attorneys, Moody locked in the trial start date for Monday, April 19th.

The second proceeding, held before Magistrate Thomas Wilson at 10:30am,  focused on the series of motions filed last month by Banton’s criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, requesting additional information about the government snitch who set up Buju Banton. According to Markus, the government has been slow to turn over documents, transcripts and other key information related to the case.

Here’s a few of the shocking details that were revealed about the still unnamed government snitch who set up the Reggae icon:

He transported over 2,000 kilos of cocaine and 3-4,000 kilos of marijuana between 1984 and 1993!

He was convicted in South Florida in 1993 of distributing cocaine in a case that brought a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years!

He has been paid 3.3 million dollars for helping law enforcement (DEA, Customs, FBI, Sarasota PDs) in numerous cases over several years!

He is a legal permanent resident of the United States from Colombia and was granted that immigration status only after law enforcement requested it!

He is paid on a contingency basis and looks to collect approximately $35,000 from the Banton case!

His credibility was called into question by one judge who doubted the truthfulness of his testimony in a case!

He is currently involved in a tax dispute with the IRS!

He has worked consistently with Assistant US Attorney James Preston, the prosecutor handling Banton’s case, for the last 10 years!

Markus argued in court that he needs more information to adequately cross-examine the government’s star witness, including specifics on the snitch’s criminal history, details of his tax case, transcripts from other cases he has testified in and a list of the amounts of money he has earned in each case. Assistant US Attorney Preston countered that his office already turned over any favorable information that might help the defense, as required by the court.

Nevertheless, Magistrate Wilson ordered the prosecution to provide the defense with a list of all the cases (w/ case numbers) the informant has testified in and any communications by criminal law officer or prosecutor asking for beneficial treatment in the informant’s tax case and immigration file. The prosecution has 14 days to turn over everything to Team Banton.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Mannion

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