We of the ACLU of Lubbock and Texas wish to acknowledge all the kind
words from those who have contacted us regarding the successful
conviction of Tom Coleman, the discredited undercover agent in the
Tulia drug debacle. It was the ACLU that started the long and tortuous
legal and public process of reversing the tragic injustices committed
by Coleman and others.
It is those others, however, that we remain concerned about. While we
urged the indictment of others involved in the Tulia sweep, none has
been charged by investigators for anything in the Tulia drug operation.
[continues 123 words]
Jury Recommends Probation For Former Tulia Drug Agent
Perhaps, it was already decided that Tom Coleman would never work in
law enforcement again because of his 1999 flawed undercover drug bust
in Tulia, leading to his own aggravated perjury charges.
A jury completely annihilated the possibility of continuing any such
career late Friday when it handed down a guilty verdict and seven
years in prison for Coleman.
The sentence offered a brief, shining moment of happiness for former
Tulia defendants in the back of the courtroom, who peered on with
[continues 783 words]
Were there really 72 crack dealers in rural Anderson
It began, as many drug stings do, with a lucky break.
In November 2002, a traffic cop pulled over a driver ferrying crack
cocaine on U.S. Highway 79 into the small East Texas town of
Palestine. Police believed they had caught a glimpse into a drug ring
that was smuggling crack from Houston and Dallas into rural Anderson
County, 40 miles southwest of Tyler. The Dogwood Trails Narcotics Task
Force, a regional alliance of local, state, and federal law
enforcement, promptly launched an investigation.
[continues 1569 words]
APD'S Mike Amos Gets Unfair Share
Lt. Mike Amos retires today from the Amarillo Police Department.
Hopefully, his association with the infamous 1999 Tulia drug sting will be
retired as well.
Amos, the former head of the defunct Panhandle Regional Narcotics
Trafficking Task Force, took much of the heat for the Tulia fiasco, most of
The majority of the blame for what happened in Tulia rests squarely on the
shoulders of Tom Coleman, the discredited former undercover officer whose
questionable actions resulted in the arrests of 46 people, most of them
pardoned. Coleman faces legal troubles of his own, having been indicted on
three counts of perjury.
[continues 162 words]
The commander of the narcotics task force that supervised the
controversial 1999 Tulia drug bust will soon retire, leaving the
Amarillo narcotics unit that replaced the task force under new management.
Lt. Mike Amos will end his career with the Amarillo Police Department
on Friday, leaving behind a decades-long record of service that
supervisors characterized as excellent. That service is marred,
however, by the controversy surrounding the Tulia drug bust, which
operated under Amos' supervision.
"Lt. Amos has had a long and distinguished career with the APD, most
of that as a supervisor," said Col. Robert Francis. "He's always been
one of our most dependable, conscientious supervisors.
[continues 410 words]
As an independent voter in this election season, my vote will go to the
candidate who most consistently demonstrates a humane concern for all
persons, regardless of their fame or fortune or party affiliation. By that
principle, my vote will go to the 5th Congressional District candidate
Bryan Kennedy, not to incumbent F. James Sensenbrenner.
Consider this case in point: As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,
Sensenbrenner has been asked repeatedly to schedule hearings on glaring
human rights abuses, as well as misuse of funds, in the 16-year-old federal
grant program known as the Byrne Grant. He repeatedly puts off such hearings.
[continues 246 words]
Coleman Case Creates Unique Situation
Tom Coleman will have to take his act on the road.
Coleman, a former undercover officer and central figure in the
infamous 1999 Tulia drug sting, will have his perjury trial moved to
Visiting Judge David Gleason ruled Wednesday for a change of venue for
Coleman, whose questionable integrity and competency created, and is
ultimately the cause of, the Tulia fiasco.
In a normal situation, change of venue deprives the segment of the
public most related to the alleged crimes of the accused from
[continues 192 words]
Perjury Case to Be Heard in Lubbock Court in January
TULIA - Eight Swisher County juries backed Tom Coleman in the 1999 Tulia
drug bust, but a ninth jury, which will have the final say on the
controversial undercover officer's fate, will not be from Tulia.
Visiting Judge David Gleason overruled defense attorneys' objections
Wednesday and ordered the perjury trial of Coleman moved to Lubbock early
"In my opinion, the publicity surrounding the entire situation - including
Mr. Coleman's appearance on national television - has been vast, to say the
least," Gleason said in handing down his decision. "It is the court's
opinion that a fair trial cannot be held in Swisher County."
[continues 566 words]
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
[continues 161 words]
Richard Orr's article in last Sunday's Herald ("Not so innocent after
all" regarding the controversial 1999 drug sting in Tulia) summarized
the findings of Todd Bensman, an investigative reporter with the CBS
affiliate in Dallas.
Bensman reports that, according to an FBI report mysteriously obtained
from an undisclosed source, eight Tulia defendants admitted that they
sold drugs to Tom Coleman. The implication is that Governor Perry, had
he only known, would never have pardoned the Tulia defendants nor
would attorneys for the City of Amarillo have sanctioned a $6 million
[continues 718 words]
To The Editor:
Well! Well! Well! It seems our district attorney, his assistant district
attorney and the law enforcement officer who gathered evidence of sales of
drugs and illegal substances in Tulia weren=B4t so wrong after all!
Apparently the incorrect positions were taken by their Amarillo lawyer, the
ACLU, the NAACP, the Friends of Justice Founder (Alan Bean) and the governo
for his blanket pardons.
Wonder if any of them will ever admit they were in the wrong? It is
One wonders how much of the $4 million settlement the confessed drug
peddlers expect to receive? That is, if any is left after the Amarillo
attorney takes his =93fee=94!
Surely they deserve nothing!
Walter I. Perry
If a house stinks because someone set a skunk loose inside and the
skunk turned over a carton of milk that soured, or a can of garbage
rotted because no one took the time to clean things up, it's no longer
important which smell is the most offensive.
It still stinks.
This image comes to mind in the wake of an FBI report into the
infamous 1999 Tulia drug sting, in which 46 residents of the tiny
Panhandle town were arrested because of the questionable work of an
undercover officer named Tom Coleman.
[continues 467 words]
Freddie Brookins will not be allowed to vote against George W. Bush on
November 2nd. Although he received a pardon from the current Texas governor,
Rick Perry, and a substantial cash settlement for the four years of a
20-year sentence he served in prison, Brookins's record has not yet been
cleared, making him ineligible. Brookins believes that once Tom Coleman, the
undercover narcotics agent who falsely accused him of selling cocaine,
stands trial on perjury charges, the slate will be wiped clean.
[continues 1128 words]
Could the era of Texas' notorious regional narcotics task forces be ending?
Possibly. A number of city officials across the state have reflected on the
expensive lesson learned by the City of Amarillo-which earlier this year
paid a $5 million settlement to victims of the much-discredited Tulia drug
sting-and have pulled out of their local task forces in order to avoid the
negative publicity, scandalous headlines, and hefty civil suits that seem
to plague these law enforcement entities.
[continues 627 words]
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
[continues 242 words]
IT IS UNFORTUNATE that Lubbock police no longer will be participating
with neighboring communities as part of the South Plains Regional
Narcotics Task Force. We realize Lubbock officers bring to the table
certain skills that may not exist in some very small South Plains
counties. Nevertheless, Lubbock citizens' safety needs have to take
Topping the list of Lubbock's concerns was the tremendous level of
liability risk for any and all of the cities involved.
As the department responsible for the $655,000 grant that funded the
task force, the Lubbock force also was liable for the actions of
participating officers in the 18 counties that comprise the task
force, according to a police department statement.
[continues 298 words]
Careful Planning May Keep You From Letting a Windfall Blow Away to Nothing
Tonya White had it from a reliable source -- her lawyer -- that she
would get a hefty check when her lawsuit settled.
Despite not knowing exactly how much it would be, she figured her
share would be enough to buy a car, pay college tuition and finance a
move out of the Texas Panhandle and into Shreveport, La.
White is one of nearly four dozen people in Tulia accused of
trafficking drugs by an undercover agent who has since been charged
with perjury for how he handled the case. She led the mostly
African-American group in filing a racial-discrimination lawsuit
against the city of Amarillo and 26 counties that had supervision of
the agent and his regional drug task force.
[continues 1327 words]
America Has Made Great Progress On Race, But Racism Hasn't Vanished
When you've witnessed, as I have, the astonishing progress in American race
relations over the past half-century, it's easy to feel good about how far
our nation has come.
It's easy, that is, unless you struggle daily with problems that arise
directly from racism or disproportionately affect low-income blacks.
That's what Ted Shaw does.
Shaw was in town Tuesday and stopped by the Observer. A New York native and
Columbia University law school graduate, he's president and
director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. The
LDF was founded in 1940 under Thurgood Marshall's leadership to provide
legal assistance to poor blacks. Originally part of the NAACP, it has been
independent since 1957.
[continues 468 words]
When something goes wrong in the criminal justice system, it's never too
late to try to make it right.
Exhibit A: 45 people in the Texas Panhandle town of Tulia who now have
their hands on some rather sizable settlement checks.
The story dates back to a 1999 drug sting, in which, originally, 46 people
were charged with dealing drugs. They were pardoned and released from jail
after serious questions were raised about the conduct of police and
prosecutors. One of the defendants has since died. The other 45 sued,
claiming the arrests were racially motivated.
[continues 668 words]
Defendants Make Plans To Use Settlement Money
TULIA - When his Tulia settlement check came, Joe Moore could take
stock and invest in his future. The money was going to be invested in
certificates of deposits and in his savings account, he said.
"I am trying to take care of myself for the rest of my life," said
Moore, 61, who spent four years in prison as a result of the drug
sting. "It is time to go on with the rest of my life. It is all I want
[continues 355 words]