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Buju Banton's Attorney: "We Had Ten Really Good Issues for the Appeal"

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The Department of Justice should have filed a response to Buju Banton's appeal on Friday, but as has been the government's style throughout the more than two-year-long saga, it's dragging its heels.

Now federal prosecutors have until February 10 to counter arguments made in the hulking, 17,000-word appeal. 

"We had ten really good issues for the appeal, literally ten," Markus said in a recent interview with New Times. "If you raise ten issues, I think it takes away from the central issues in the case. So we decided to keep it to our three best."

Among the core issues of the appeal, which Markus filed at the end of December, are whether a shady confidential informant entrapped the reggae artist and whether Banton was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Buju's appeal raises several other concerns, including that the government has been vindictive in its pursuit of a conviction.

A Tampa jury found Buju guilty of three counts in February 2010, including possession of a gun.

The gun in question was hidden in the car of James Mack, a man Buju had never met or spoken with. But, as previously discussed on this blog, Judge James Moody tossed the gun charge because Buju was hundreds of miles away from the drug deal and had no way of knowing that Mack decided to pack heat for his drive from Georgia to a Sarasota warehouse, where he attempted to buy several kilos.

The government, however, filed a cross-notice of appeal, which allows it to challenge Moody's decision to toss out the gun charge.

It has not yet been determined if the governemnt will actually challenge Moody's decision, but doing so would only seem to bolster Markus' argument of vindictiveness.

Markus and his team will get one last chance to respond after the DOJ submits its response in February.

The United States Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta will be tasked with reviewing and ruling on the appeal.

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