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Singer awaits mistrial ruling on drug trafficking conviction

Being accused of drug charges can be an incredibly stressful and frustrating scenario. A conviction on those charges is even more disturbing, and can bring a wide range of punitive measures including prison time, probation and damage to one's standing within their community. For one man, a conviction in Florida on charges of drug trafficking may result in a mistrial in the face of new information concerning one of the jurors.

The man at the center of this case is Buju Banton, a Jamaican reggae singer who was arrested in 2009 on charges of drug trafficking. His first trial in the matter resulted in a mistrial when jurors became deadlocked. The second trial ended in a conviction. The singer is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence from that conviction.

An attorney for the singer has now asked the court to rule on a motion to allow a new trial in the matter. The basis for that motion is the claim by the defense team that one of the jurors in the second trial conducted improper research on the case outside of the courtroom. A reporter testified that the juror admitted to researching the case, which would be a direct violation of the instructions handed down to jurors from the judge. The juror asserts that she only researched the singer's music, as well as the federal Pinkerton rule.

The defense claims that the Florida jury was prepared to acquit the singer of drug trafficking charges before the juror discussed her research with other jurors. If this is the case, the court could find that the conviction in the matter was improperly reached and could order a new trial. While this case offers an unusual example of the way that the justice system works, it does illustrate the benefit of having criminal defense representation that is willing and able to work toward protecting the interests of the accused party, even after a conviction has been obtained.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Buju Banton Drug Charges: Reggae Singer Awaits Ruling In Mistrial Request," Dec. 22, 2012

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