Pubdate: Thu, 30 Sep 2004
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 The Dallas Morning News
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


Citing Fairness, Judge Sends Perjury Case To Lubbock In

Declaring that the former undercover agent at the center of
discredited drug busts in Tulia cannot receive a fair trial in Swisher
County, a judge moved Tom Coleman's perjury case to Lubbock, 66 miles

Visiting Judge David Gleason set trial for the week of Jan.

Of the 46 people arrested in the 1999 drug busts, 39 were black, which
led civil rights groups to question if the busts were racially
motivated. Coleman is white

Coleman, 44, testified at trials that he bought cocaine from drug
dealers in Tulia, though he had no audio or video surveillance to back
up his claims.

He is accused of lying under oath during a March 2003 evidentiary
hearing held to determine if four black men arrested during the drug
busts received fair trials. The testimony involved his employment as a
Cochran County sheriff's deputy.

Prosecutors favored the change of venue. Attorneys for Coleman
disagreed, calling several Tulia community leaders who testified
Wednesday that the trial should be held in Tulia.

Gov. Rick Perry granted pardons last year to 35 defendants in Tulia, a
small farming and ranching community of about 5,000 between Amarillo
and Lubbock. Charges were dropped against others arrested.

Tulia residents wrongly charged and jailed in the cases began
receiving checks this summer from a $6 million settlement stemming
from a lawsuit claiming the arrests were racially motivated.

Information from: Amarillo Globe-News
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