DOJ Continues to Press for Gun Charge Against Buju Banton
The Department of Justice on Friday filed its latest -- and most likely last -- argument as to why a Tampa judge was wrong to throw out gun charges in the case of Buju Banton, an iconic and controversial reggae star who won a Grammy just hours before standing retrial on federal drug and gun charges in 2011 (read our feature on the case here).
Here's a brief recap of what led to this quarrel: A Tampa jury found Buju guilty of three of the four counts, including two drug charges and a gun charge. Months later, during a sentencing hearing, the judge decided to throw out the gun charge because Buju wasn't at the drug deal, never met or spoke with the guy who had the gun, and the only basis for the charge was the government's insistence that drugs and guns go together.
Because the United States presented sufficient evidence from which the jury could -- and indeed did -- find that [Buju] reasonably could have foreseen that a coconspirator would possess a firearm in furtherance of their drug trafficking conspiracy, or would carry one during and in relation to that conspiracy, the district court should not have erased the jury's guilty verdict.
[A]bsent evidence of exceptional circumstances, we think it fairly inferable that a codefendant's possession of a dangerous weapon is foreseeable to a defendant with reason to believe that their collaborative criminal venture includes an exchange of controlled substances for a large amount of cash.
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