Pubdate: Sat, 11 Sep 2004
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 Amarillo Globe-News
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


Each Side In Coleman Case Has Idea For Relocation

TULIA - The perjury trial for the former undercover agent at the
center of the Tulia drug bust scandal likely will be headed downstate.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will meet with visiting judge David
Gleason on Sept. 29 in Tulia to determine whether the trial of Tom
Coleman should be moved and where it should go, according to court

Defense attorneys and prosecutors have filed motions to move the trial
to another venue. Special Prosecutor John Nation said Friday that
correspondence with Gleason indicates the judge, who could not be
reached for comment Friday, is on board with a change of venue, as

"I think there has just been too much publicity," Nation said of the
case. "Also, we have to ask if we are sure we can even get a jury
there. You have X number of defendants, and a lot of people will have
been witnesses, jurors, defendants' relatives or will have strong
opinions. I know the special prosecutors have a concern about the
ability to seat a panel of jurors."

Coleman is facing three charges of felony perjury in connection with
testimony he gave in the Tulia cases.

Coleman conducted an 18-month undercover investigation in Tulia that
led to the 1999 arrests of 46 people, 39 of them black. The arrests
sparked outcries of racism and police misconduct that eventually led
to pardons for nearly all the defendants and a $6 million settlement
in a civil rights lawsuit.

A key moment came last year when Coleman gave testimony at an
evidentiary hearing that appeared to contradict earlier statements he
made about facts in the cases. Prosecutors charged Coleman with
perjury based on that testimony.

Coleman's Dallas attorney, John Read, did not return a phone call
seeking comment Friday.

The eventual venue for the trial is still uncertain. Defense attorneys
asked for the proceedings to be moved to Wichita Falls, while the
prosecution pushed for Lubbock, Dallas or Austin.

The change of venue hearing will be at 10 a.m. Sept. 29 in the Swisher
County Courthouse.
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