Buju appeals drug conviction

Buju appeals drug conviction

Monday, December 19, 2011

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LAWYERS representing imprisoned reggae artiste Buju Banton on Friday filed an appeal to have his conviction reversed in the United States Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit in Georgia.

The attorneys — David Oscar Markus, Mona Markus, Anita Margot-Moss and Marc Seitles — are contending that Banton's conviction should be reversed and the case should be dismissed with prejudice or that he should receive a new trial.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie, was in June sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment by United States Magistrate Jim Moody in the Sam M Gibbons US Court in Tampa, Florida. He was found guilty of conspiring to negotiate a drug deal in a police controlled warehouse in Florida.

The lawyers are contending that the district court erred in failing to grant Myrie's judgment of acquittal as a matter of law, where:

* The undisputed evidence is that Myrie did not agree to participate in the drug conspiracy that eventually was reached among others;

* Myrie had almost no participation in the telephone call forming the basis of the government's charge that he aided and abetted the "facilitation" of a drug conspiracy, and in fact ,the telephone call in question did not facilitate a drug conspiracy in any event;

* Whether the district court erred in failing to find that Myrie was entrapped as a matter of law, where there was no evidence that Myrie was predisposed to engage in a cocaine distribution scheme, and the undisputed evidence was that the government pursued a lengthy, intense, unrelenting campaign to target Myrie through an unsupervised paid informant who was desperate to earn a cut of the deal; and

* Whether the district court erred in failing to dismiss the case based on the expiration of the speedy trial clock.

The attorneys are also contending that the district court erred in failing to find that Myrie was entrapped as a matter of law, as he was not predisposed to participate in a cocaine conspiracy and his involvement was the result of improper government inducement.

They will also argue that Myrie demonstrated reluctance to participate in a drug conspiracy and his consistent efforts to avoid following up government informant Alex Johnson's consistent and emphatic efforts to draw Myrie in, and because the speedy trial clock ran long before his case was tried, the case should have been dismissed with prejudice.

Setting aside excludable days, the 70-day clock expired in this case, 93 days before Myrie was initially tried, more than double the amount of time permitted by the Speedy Trial Act, the lawyers will also argue in their bid to free Buju Banton, who is now languishing in a Miami, Florida-based prison.

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