According to media reports, Buju Banton could walk free from his conviction and subsequent ten year sentence on drug-related charges after the discovery that the U.S. government may have violated the Speedy Trial Act. The act states that any defendant involved in a case must be brought to trial by the government within a 70 day window; a right guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment in the American constitution. Additionally, said right is generally afforded to defendants so that they not subjected to unreasonably lengthy incarceration prior to a fair trial.
Buju Banton’s first trial took place in September 2010, nine months after his initial arrest by law enforcement officials in Florida and four months after Judge James Moody pushed back Buju’s initial court date without giving any specifics regarding why the case was postponed. His second trial, where he was later convicted, took place in February of this year, four months after he was granted bail in the case.
The U.S Supreme Court has developed a four part test considering length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of his right to a speedy trial, and the prejudice to the defendant in judging speedy trial claims. Any violations of the Speedy Trial Act could spark the dismissal of a criminal case given the state’s inability to bring the case to trial within a reasonable amount of time.
Buju Banton’s legal team filed an appeal last week in a Georgia appeals court, citing violation of said act whilst intimating that the prominent Reggae singjay was not a willing participant in any drug conspiracy.
Buju Banton was sentenced to ten years in prison this past February on three drug-related charges stemming from a December 2009 incident where he allegedly conspired to organize a drug deal within a police controlled warehouse.