Tag Archives: Mark Myrie

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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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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Buju Banton Advocates Launch A Letter Writing Campaign To U.S. Attorney General

In a consolidated effort to bring even more attention to the flimsy Federal charges being wielded against the international reggae music icon, Buju Banton‘s supporters have kicked off an official letter writing campaign to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. The goal is to ensure the government is keenly aware that the public is monitoring this case closely. Below is a copy of the sample letter being circulated:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I am writing to ask for your intervention with respect to a grave injustice against Grammy-nominated reggae music icon Buju Banton (legal name Mark Anthony Myrie). The incarceration of this legendary musician without bail is unconscionable.  He is currently incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Florida while he awaits trial on drug conspiracy charges in the Middle District of Florida for which he has pleaded not guilty. The charges are a result of information provided by a professional informant who relentlessly pursued Mr. Myrie for six months to participate in a drug deal.

In our great system of justice the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, persons accused of crime are entitled to bail. Mr. Myrie meets all of the requirements for bail, yet it has not been granted. In addition, his trial has been postponed three times despite his attorney’s objections.

The professional informant in Mr. Myrie’s case is a convicted drug trafficker from Colombia. This convicted felon has been granted legal immigration status and to date has earned over three million American dollars (tax-free) for serving as an informant to various U.S. government agencies. Taxpayer dollars certainly could be spent more effectively than on trying to entrap individuals who have no previous criminal record and have never been involved with drugs in any manner.  Is the Federal government presently in the business of creating criminals?

Mr. Myrie, a.k.a. Buju Banton, produces uplifting, positive music comparable to the music of Bob Marley.  His work inspires people worldwide. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award, the highest achievement in his field, four times since 1999.  He is one of the leading voices of his generation, shedding light on such issues as the unrelenting violence and abject poverty pervasive in the Third World.

Banton has also represented his country in performances at the Summer Olympics in Greece in 2004 and at the Cricket World Cup Opening in 2007.  Buju commemorated Jamaica’s support for President Obama by appearing in rock legend Dave Stewart’s music video for “American Prayer,” a moving tribute to the President.  Additionally, Buju is a family man, an employer and a generous philanthropist.

Given Buju Banton’s exemplary reputation, his humanitarian efforts and his cultural contributions to society, he should not be languishing in jail at U.S. taxpayers’ expense.  I urge you to do whatever possible to end this injustice.

Organizers of the Buju Banton Letter Writing Campaign are encouraging friends, fans and supporters worldwide to print out this letter — or write a version of their own, sign and mail it directly to Attorney General Holder at the following address:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001


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Why Was Buju Banton Thrown Into Maximum Security For Giving Food To Fellow Inmate!?!?

pinellasEarly Monday morning, the legal team representing Jamaican music icon, Buju Banton, was forced to file an emergency motion with the US District Court (Middle District) in Tampa, Florida on behalf of their client. Last Thursday, Banton (aka Mark Myrie), who has been incarcerated at Pinellas County Jail (PCJ) in nearby Clearwater since early January, was placed in maximum security for 30 days for giving away his food to a fellow inmate. After several futile attempts to negotiate directly with the jail (and the prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney, James Preston) to have Buju moved back to general population, Team Banton felt compelled to file the Emergency Motion for Bond or for Alternative Relief.

Lead defense attorney, David Oscar Markus, believes this excessive punishment is simply the latest in a long line of subtle yet exacting harassment endured by the Reggae star since his transfer to PCJ. Immediately upon his arrival at the jail, Banton, a devout Rasta who follows a strict ital diet, filled out the required paperwork to apply for vegetarian meals, but all of his requests were ignored. In addition to his visible weight loss, Banton has been inexplicably moved from floor to floor of the jail — 5 times at last count. And his cell is customarily tossed by guards (read: searched at random), among other things.

According to reports from former inmates who were interviewed for a PCJ resource site about (but unaffiliated with) the jail, South Division or “max,” is for non-sentenced (usually dangerous) felons. However, Central Division, the minimum security area where Banton was previously housed, at least has a “microwave and hot water” and is “very clean and neat compared to max.”

And here’s a Typical Meal Schedule & Sample Menu at Pinellas County Jail:

MEALS
Breakfast – 3:00am
Lunch – 10:00am
Dinner – 4:00pm

MENU
Shank & Cereal
Meat & Gravy
Macaroni & Ham Bits

COMMISSARY
Inmates may order from the commissary twice a week.

Below is an excerpt of the motion filed by Mr. Markus:

EMERGENCY MOTION FOR BOND OR FOR ALTERNATIVE RELIEF

Because Mr. Myrie had the audacity to share his food with a hungry inmate, he was sent out of general population and into the maximum security wing of the prison. When Mr. Myrie told the officer that he did not believe that he was doing anything wrong, he was told that he could contest her finding, but if he lost, he would be sent to the hole. Knowing how that would turn out, Mr. Myrie waived his opportunity to contest the hearing and was sent to maximum security for the next 30 days — the most critical 30 days of Mr. Myrie’s life as he prepares for trial.

Since being incarcerated in December 2009, Mr. Myrie has lost about 40 pounds and has not been provided with a diet in accordance with his religious views. Although he has been able to make appropriate meals in the kitchen with food he purchased from the commissary, he does not have the ability in his new maximum security wing. In addition, the living areas and kitchen are unsanitary, and the showers do not work. Because he is being treated inhumanely, we have no choice but to file this motion for bond.

The decision to then place Mr. Myrie in a maximum security wing weeks before his upcoming trial suggest that something else is going on. Counsel for Mr. Myrie was advised that he would remain in maximum security for at least 30 days, and that there was “nothing we can do about it.” In sum, Mr. Myrie is now in a maximum security wing for caring enough to offer food to another inmate who was hungry, and genuinely believing there was nothing wrong in doing so.

Transferring Mr. Myrie to maximum security is not only affecting him (Mr. Myrie’s mental and physical health has been rapidly deteriorating) but it is affecting undersigned’s counsel’s ability to prepare for trial. For example, this week when counsel attempted to visit Mr. Myrie, counsel was required to wait over two hours until he could see Mr. Myrie.

Many of the people that we spoke to at the facility tried to help us and agreed that this “violation” was extremely minor. We were told, however, that once the decision was made, it was not going to be overturned.

Team Banton was granted the emergency hearing and will appear in Tampa Federal Court on Friday, March 26th at 10am before Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli.

In the meantime… Bujumania!

Banton Fights The Power! Photo: Jonathan Mannion

FREE BUJU! RADIO/TV/WEB CAMPAIGN
Listeners request and selectors continue to play as much Buju Banton music as possible, especially the uplifting new single “Optimistic Soul,” which officially dropped online, March 23rd. Multimedia programmers should add the accompanying music video into rotation on local, national and international TV outlets and web sites. Plan a special Buju Banton Tribute program for the weekend of April 16th-18th (just before the trial start date of Monday, April 19th).

Swap your Facebook/Twitter profile pic to the official Free Buju! logo or your favorite photo of Buju Banton. Bombard the web with inspirational Buju Banton lyrics, quotes, interviews, videos and other memorabilia. Stay optimistic.

WRITE TO THE GENERAL
Continue writing letters of encouragement to Buju Banton:

Mark Anthony Myrie - Docket # 1387202

*SD-5F-POD03-01-002

Pinellas County Jail

14400 49th Street North

Clearwater, Florida 33762-2877

Please note *new housing info, which must be included in address to ensure delivery.

FAST & PRAY
The Gargamel Music Family will begin our collective fast on April 1st. Join us in solidarity!


~ GET DOWN WITH THE MOVEMENT ~
Official Free Buju! T-Shirts
We Support Buju Banton
Tampa Bay Supports Buju Banton
Buju Banton ♫It’s Not An Easy Road♫ Supporting Him In His Struggles
We Demand A Fair Trial For Buju Banton
Buju Banton On Facebook
Buju Banton On MySpace
Buju Banton On YouTube

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