Trials & Litigation

Reggae star's sentence cut after judge concludes jury foreman did Web research

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A federal judge in Florida has reduced a reggae star’s sentence for a drug conviction, citing online research by the jury foreman during his trial.

However, that still left counsel for defendant Buju Banton arguing that his entire conviction should be reversed rather than only the portion related to an illegal gun carried by another person. Meanwhile, jury foreman Terri Wright may be facing a criminal contempt case that could put her in jail, too, assuming prosecutors comply with Judge James S. Moody Jr.’s call to prosecute her, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

At issue in the aftermath of Banton’s 2011 cocaine conviction is whether and to what extent the jury was influenced by Wright’s research. It came to light when she told a reporter about it; however, she has since insisted that the research took place after the trial was over. The judge in the Tampa case asked for, and got, her computer hard drive to try to determine exactly what happened and when. But an expert says it appears to be a hard drive for a different computer that was not used for more than a year, including the time of the trial.

Moody found cause to believe that Wright was doing research about federal case law on the Pinkerton doctrine, which permits a member of a criminal conspiracy to be held responsible for acts committed by other members. In Banton’s case, the issue was whether he could be held liable for a gun carried by another person.

See also: “Search ordered on juror’s computer drive to see if she violated Web research ban”

Pierce Law Review (2005): “The Pinkerton Doctrine and Murder”

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