Buju Banton One Step Closer to Freedom

Categories: Crime

After the piece appeared, Banton's legal team filed a motion for a new trial based on jury misconduct. At a hearing over the motion, Wright claimed New Times had misquoted her, alleging the research came after the trial.

In late November, Chris Sweeney, the writer who covered Banton's case, left the paper. In early December, the defense subpoenaed his notes and recordings. This created an awkward ethical situation: A journalist was being asked to hand over his work.

"Clearly from the perspective of the ethics in journalism, you'll go to jail before you turn over your notes. But there are exceptions to those rules, and I think those exceptions are in this case," says Charles N. Davis, a professor at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism. "Here you have a woman who is essentially accusing him of a much worse journalism crime, which is effectively fabrication, or at least deception. If I were him, I would have done the exact same thing to clear my journalistic name."

Adds Sweeney: "I was not too pleased about getting subpoenaed. But I was pissed. I wasn't going to let Terri Wright lie and say that I fabricated quotes. It's not like I was protecting any sources, so I might as well [testify]."

On December 20, Sweeney testified in Tampa. He produced a recording of the interview he had made of their conversation with Wright's consent. The tape confirmed Wright's published quotes regarding research. When the juror took the stand and heard her words played back, she still continued to maintain the research had been done after the proceedings. Banton's attorneys also grilled her on her failure to acknowledge she had served on seven juries. She had even said she would like to be a professional juror.

To settle the issue, Moody ordered Wright to hand over her computer so an expert could comb the hardware for past searches. But a close inspection showed that the equipment Wright submitted to the court hadn't been used at all from May 2010 to June 2011 -- a time span that stretched four months after the trial. Banton's defense argued that Wright had submitted a different hard drive to distance herself from charges of wrongdoing. The juror continued to claim she'd done nothing wrong.

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