Buju Banton Has Gun Conviction Overturned, May See Retrial

Buju Banton had his 2011 gun conviction overturned this week, though the reggae singer may face a retrial as he remains in federal prison for drug charges.

A federal judge this week tossed out Banton’s gun conviction after finding that a juror did independent research before the trial began. Banton is in federal prison after being convicted of cocaine conspiracy and trafficking charges that came after a 2009 arrest. The gun charge brought him an additional five years.

US District Judge James Moody said it would be up to the US government to decide whether to retry Buju Banton on the gun charge. The judge added that jury foreman Terri Wright should face a criminal contempt charge for researching the federal Pinkerton rule, which pertains to the actions of conspirators during a crime.

The Pinkerton rule played a factor in Banton’s trial, specifically the gun charge.

In 2011, Buju Banton was sentenced to ten years in federal prison on drug charges. Sentencing for the reggae star brought out many celebrities to speak in his favor, including a former Jamaican government official, an NBA player, and other reggae artists. Actor Danny Glover was one of those to weigh in on the sentencing, calling Banton “role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community.”

“Your honor, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer,” Glover wrote, using Banton’s given name. “Society would not benefit from his incarceration.”

Banton was convicted of intent to participate in potential drug deals and conspiring with a Drug Enforcement Agency informant. He went through an initial trial, but the jury deadlocked and a judge declared a mistrial.

But Buju Banton was convicted in a second trial on counts of  “conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense.”