WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Monday, October 12, 2015

THE SYSTEM FAILED BUJU BANTON

BY DAVID OSCAR MARKUS- Appearing in The Jamaica Gleaner

Last week, the same judge who presided over Buju Banton's two trials and sentenced him to 10 years in prison found that one of the jurors, Terry Wright, committed egregious misconduct and found her guilty of criminal contempt of court for conducting research during jury deliberations in direct contravention of the court's orders.
Despite this extraordinary decision, which would cause any reasonable person to doubt the integrity of the verdict, Buju will get no relief. This is a tragedy because the juror's misconduct sent an innocent man to jail.
With all the talk of the misconduct, many have forgotten that this case is about how a con-artist named Alex Johnson set up a recording artiste named Mark Myrie, who performs as Buju Banton.
Johnson, a career criminal who was paid over US$3.3 million by the government, relentlessly pursued the Grammy-award-winning reggae star with no prior convictions. He vowed never to stop trying to turn Buju into a drug dealer even though his target repeatedly said no.
Using every trick and pressure point he had learnt to use over his lengthy career of crime, Johnson became frustrated that he couldn't get Buju Banton to do anything other than talk. So he tricked Buju into a warehouse of cocaine, telling him that they were going to have some fun on a boat and to discuss how Johnson could help Buju with his music career.

End Of Relationship

Even though Buju realised at that point that Johnson was not for real and broke off contact with him, Buju was arrested two days later after Johnson did a deal (unbeknown to Buju) with Buju's friend, Ian Thomas, while Buju was home in bed across the state.
Buju never invested one penny into the drug deal and was never supposed to make one penny out of it. Alex Johnson, on the other hand, made thousands of dollars from the United States government for getting this deal done.
After hearing these facts, the first jury in Tampa (one of the most conservative jurisdictions in Florida) voted 7-5 for acquittal. In a drug case in Tampa, this is just about unheard of as prosecutors convict over 97 per cent of drug defendants.
Ultimately, the judge declared a mistrial because the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Even though it was pretty clear that Buju was no drug dealer, the Federal government was undeterred. It proceeded with a second trial against a person with no prior record, a person with no history of involvement with the drug trade, and a person who was not even present when the informant drug dealer sold cocaine to another individual.
It is at this second trial that the juror committed misconduct by conducting Internet research about Buju himself, the jury instructions, and the law. The prosecution argued that the research was harmless, but interviews of the jury after the verdict revealed that the initial vote was 10-2 in favour of acquittal.
One of the two jurors favouring conviction was (you guessed it) Terri Wright. After the tainted jury convicted Buju, the judge was required under the law to sentence him to a minimum mandatory 10 years in federal prison. Ten years! This is more than the big-time supplier of the cocaine received, more than the co-defendant who had a gun received, and more than the purchaser of the cocaine received.

Unfair Punishment


Buju Banton received the highest penalty in the case, by a lot, because he went to trial and fought for his innocence.

Terri Wright, who calls herself a "passionate" juror and wished she could make jury service her profession, didn't just commit misconduct in the jury room. She did so before and afterwards. During voir dire (the part of the trial where jurors "speak the truth" about their background), she told the court that she had only served previously "on a civil case", when, in reality, she had served on seven prior criminal and civil cases.
When all of her misconduct was discovered, she lied under oath about her actions and even produced a fraudulent computer hard drive to the court to be inspected. It gets worse - even after all of this came to light, Terri Wright sat on another jury and did not disclose that she was the subject of a criminal contempt proceeding for her misconduct as a juror.
US District Judge James S. Moody, rightfully outraged that a juror would disregard his instructions, found Wright guilty of criminal contempt and even ordered her to write a report about the cost of Buju's expensive six-day trial.
Although Wright will never get to fulfil her dream of being a professional juror, she will get to move on with her life. She won't have to do one day in jail. Buju, on the other hand, isn't set to be released from federal prison until 2019. Our system failed him.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like sour grapes to me. Argue that crap to the jury. Oh, you already did and apparently it fell on deaf ears.

Anonymous said...

Is this blog really the proper forum to reargue your sorry-ass case? I think not.

Anonymous said...

This comment section FLAYED Mark Eiglarsh for self-promotion, among other crimes, when he posted a blow-by-blow account of representing a client on FACDL.

Maybe Mark just needs to add his middle name.

Anonymous said...

I do not see how any attorney with any talent could ever lose this case.

Anonymous said...

I guess you posted bc you're friends. Is this case the best case to argue that the system isn't fair?

Rumpole said...

Other than most of you jerks being no talent hacks, why all the hate? DOM is by far and away the best federal trial lawyer in the state and one of the best in the country. If you try cases you will lose some tough ones. The difference between David and the rest of you is that he is a true fighter and never ever ever ever gives up on his clients. I don't know about you but that's the guy I want in my corner fighting for me. Not just some hack who takes money, loses, shrugs he shoulders and drives his porsche away. Other than jealousy I don't get all this hate. So stop it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rump. David is as good a lawyer as there is and what happened to his client is an outrage. Go back to your $300 DWLS cases you worthless bunch of hacks.

Anonymous said...

David is a great guy and a great lawyer. But the jury spoke. This is probably not the greatest injustice of all time. Hell, it probably isn't the greatest injustice out of the federal courts this week. And that is sad.

Anonymous said...

I don't know DOM but I agree with Rumpole -- DOM's post indicates the righteous zeal we should show to everyone of our clients. Sure, celebrate the wins, but agonize over losses, be honest about where you fell short, or use ithem, as he has, to educate others about systemic injustice.

Anonymous said...

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Thanks Rump for this post.
Besides the injustice so evident in this case involving the Judge, Juror, and Prosecutors, what is truly sickening is the callous responses from those who should be the most outraged. They sound like a sorry-ass bunch of middle school kids.

Anonymous said...

Eiglarsh sent an email to the list about how he called a duty judge. Big difference here. Markus tried two cases in Tampa federal court and hung a jury and then had the second jury until the misconduct in a case where his client was on tape tasting Cocaine. The guy fights. And he's still fighting, years later. If you know him, you know that he loses sleep over his cases and loves his clients. Free Buju! Go Markus!

earl rogers said...

I agree with Rumpole. DOM's record in federal court speaks for itself. The Buju Banton case is a perfect example of how the merciless machinery in our federal justice system grinds everything in its erratic path into dust and is also the perfect example of why a defendant in federal court needs a lawyer like DOM.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rumpole that we need to be more civil with one another. David wrote an op-ed trying to explain why the process broke down in this case. The op-ed was published in Banton's country because there is substantial interest in the case. If you ever read David's blog, you know that he is not a self promoter but just a dedicated criminal defense lawyer. But if you want to attack him, sign your name.

And to Rumpole you knew this would happen if you reposted David's op-ed. Those same type of comments appear in every post on this blog. Your plea to stop the hate is a little empty.

Anonymous said...

Damn, I am a prosecutor and can't believe how you defense attorneys trash one of your own.

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...



Come on Rump. You've run this BLOG for all these years and you are surprised by the comments of a few numnuts. You've written about these people before.

You refer to this syndrome as schadenfreude; pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune. In this case, the misfortune of DOM's loss. He is successful, very successful, and other's just can't handle that.

Call it jealousy, envy, whatever you want. After all, what is jealousy - it is no more than the emotions of anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness and disgust, at others and their success.

Whether it's Mark Eiglarsh, (who is an excellent attorney), and his "self-promoting" on TV or the Internet or in a list serv post, or attorneys Guy Lewis and Michael Tein, (who are both excellent attorneys) and their millions of dollars they were paid in legal fees, or any of the other criminal defense or civil attorneys who have had some success that is reported on this blog, there will always be a group of degenerates that have nothing nice to say about their colleagues' successes.

I have always been amazed at the incensed lawyers out there who put down Mark and other for what they call "self-promoting". In case you missed out on your business courses in college, it is called "marketing" my friends. We may want to think that the practice of law is a business above marketing. That we are too good and noble a profession for that kind of advertising that is better reserved for all of the other lowly professions. Wake up folks. You run a business and you compete every day against 101,000 other licensed attorneys in Florida. And, if the AVVO's and others have their way, then you will be competing against those businesses too. Learn how to self-promote a little better, and stop complaining when you see others who have perfected it so much better than you ever will. And there are many successful ways of "self-promoting".

Do you all know who the single biggest lawyer self-promoter is in the state? His name is John Morgan, better known as ForThePeople.com. Nobody does it better. And the man is worth close to $100m dollars. And he has some of the best trial lawyers working for him in the State of Florida and around the country; (yes, he has offices in several states now). And his firm gets great results for their clients, both in and out of court.

Take Brian Tannebaum, arguably one of the biggest "self-promoter's" in our field. What is his idea of self-promoting, it's being the President of FACDL-Miami, and then President of FACDL Statewide, and volunteering his time to lecture at seminars all over the State, and writing an article for ATL, or his BLOG entries, or his latest "self-promotion", his book, The Practice", which discusses networking, and marketing, and social media, etc. You think that all of those things he does brings him more exposure, and thus, more business. You're damn right it does. And more power to him for doing whatever it takes to becoming more successful in his business.

It's takes the DOM's of this world to stand up to the system and fight back when they know the system has wronged their client. More of us should be willing to do the same thing.

Cap Out .....

CAPTAIN JUSTICE said...


CUBS WIN CUBS WIN.

Four wins away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 1945. And eight wins away from making Bob Gale a household name.

Anonymous said...

Eiglarsh is Captain Justice.

Anonymous said...

The Chicago Cubs have made a sizable deposit to reserve The REN (a venue) for their World Series victory celebration.

The Professor said...

I agree with The Captain. However, on some rare occasions it may be necessary to marginalize those whose comments are really driven out of a need to diminish others, who clearly have their fingers on the pulse of what is really happening, for the simple reason that the former lack that ability. Many of them live in a bubble of ignorance or jealousy. Incapable of three dimensional thinking, their writings reveal their agenda of uninformed belligerence not designed to further conversation, but to grant themselves a few moments of mental-mastabatory self-satisfaction. They are entitled to be heard, but rarely deserve acknowledgment.

Anonymous said...

It's a "legal" blog so wouldn't "trial stuff" be expected. The jealousy , envy and merit-less criticism from all the haters in unbelievable . Many of you lawyers are such assholes

Anonymous said...

No, we lesser attorneys aren't all jerks. Im reading over the comments now. There was ONE that was derogatory to Mr. Marcus -- 10:10AM. The other comments derided the jury for being deaf, questioned the appropriateness of this forum, pointed out hypocrisy in the different way different attorneys are treated, and questioned the dubious claim that this case embodied some immense injustice.

So all told, one single post that implied Mr. Marcus has no talent. One. And then all three bloggers come rushing to attack the comment section? Holy shit, you guys are thin-skinned.

Anonymous said...

Poor DOM... he has been compared to Eiglarsh and Tannebaum. Yikes. Guys, DOM is a real trial lawyer. When is the last time those other guys tried a case?

Anonymous said...

Late 90's

Anonymous said...

I've met DOM once while we waited at FDC. Nice guy, I had heard of his talents and accomplishments so I expected an Eiglarsh/Tannenbaumish demeanor. What does that mean? It means the demeanor consistent with someone who in their head is a big shot and expects to be treated like one. In reality, those two guys are big shots in their offices. On the other hand, DOM was very humble and affable. I had read about the guy's successes and accomplishments, despite that, the guy acted like a first year lawyer just out of law school; humble.

I'm one of those "no talent hacks" but I'd rather brag about DOM than the other two guys who constantly tout "I was on CNN!!!! I was on CNN!!!" or "I've been invited to speak at the Florida Bar, I'm fu cking soooooo awesome, yay me!!!!!"

Anonymous said...

And he tries cases like a first year lawyer just out of law school. Go watch and see for yourself. The man is a self-promoting sycophant and nothing more than a schlamazel in the courtroom.