Pubdate: Tue,  6 Apr 2004
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Joe Chapman
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)

Canyon, Potter OK Tulia deal

Two more pieces of the Tulia lawsuit settlement fit into place Monday as 
Potter County and Canyon approved the deal during commission meetings.

After receiving an update from Assistant County Attorney Scott Brumley, 
Potter County commissioners approved the settlement 4-0. Commissioner Manny 
Perez was absent.

The county will pay $50,000 to settle, without acknowledging any liability 
in the case.

"Most people have this underlying feeling that, if you're not guilty, why 
pay anything?" Commissioner Joe Kirkwood said. If the county went to 
litigate, court costs would exceed $90,000 just to get started, he said. 
"When it's personal, private money, you might look at it from a different 
route. Given all the facts that we have, we're saving the taxpayers money 
in this situation," Kirkwood said.

Brumley agreed with Kirkwood.

"Ultimately, Potter County has a good point to make, but sometimes you 
simply can't afford to make your point," Brumley said.

Canyon likewise agreed to a settlement payment without accepting any liability.

Canyon's insurer, the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool, 
will pay $150,000 on behalf of the city, Borger, Pampa, and police chiefs 
Jerry Poston of Borger and Trevlyn Pitner of Pampa, City Attorney Chuck 
Hester said.

Canyon has paid a $1,000 deductible to its insurer for the claim.

Throughout the month, counties, cities and individuals will be approving a 
$1 million settlement in the federal lawsuit related to the 1999 Tulia drug 

The members of the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force were 
sued by former defendants in the sting operation after they were pardoned 
and had their charges dropped.

The settlement was agreed upon by all parties except Tom Coleman, the 
Swisher County undercover agent whose investigation is at the center of the 

The city of Amarillo agreed to a separate, $5 million settlement last month.

One clause in the non-Amarillo defendants' settlement states that they 
won't sue the plaintiffs for any currently known claims related to the 
investigation, but leaves open the possibility that parties could sue for 
defamation arising out of future claims.

"If later we learn of facts that we don't know now," Brumley said, "or just 
as importantly, if in the coming media blitz - books, movies, all that kind 
of stuff - there was possibility of some kind of defamation or something 
like that, we didn't want to hamstring any of our officials who might want 
to vindicate themselves."

Potter County will pay the settlement out of a fund through which it 
insures itself for claims up to $175,000.

For claims above that amount, the county uses outside insurance.

Potter's settlement payment is greater than that of Randall County, which 
will pay $25,000 - $12,500 for the county and $12,500 for Sheriff Joel 
Richardson - because of factors relating to Randall's insurance and what 
the county has paid in legal costs, Brumley said.

"At this stage in the game, Randall County has expended as much as we 
have," Brumley said. "The difference is more in form than in substance." 
Once all parties have signed the settlement, it will become official when 
the plaintiffs file a motion to dismiss.
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