Tulia, Texas
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61 US TX: Tulia Defendants Receive ChecksSat, 17 Jul 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:McBride, Jim Area:Texas Lines:120 Added:07/18/2004

Judge, Lawyers Won't Reveal Settlement Amounts

Just as Tulia residents began getting their checks from a $6 million civil rights settlement, a new controversy began brewing over whether the public is entitled to know how much each plaintiff receives. Retired state district Judge Ron Chapman, who decided how the settlement would be divided among the 45 defendants, said the checks were delivered Thursday night. The defendants will share $4 million, while some of the lawyers who represented them will receive $2 million.

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62US TX: Judge Divides Money in TuliaSat, 17 Jul 2004
Source:Houston Chronicle (TX) Author:Buggs, Shannon Area:Texas Lines:Excerpt Added:07/17/2004

Defendants Get Share of Drug-Bust Settlement Cash

TULIA - When Billy Wafer fantasized about his share of a $6 million lawsuit settlement, he imagined making the biggest purchase of his life within days of getting the check. Payday came Friday for the 45-year-old, who was ensnared with 10 percent of Tulia's black residents in a now-discredited drug bust.

"At first I wanted to buy a house here in Tulia in the next few days, but now we're going to wait a while," he said on Friday. "We're first-time home buyers, and we just learned that there are a lot of things we need to do before we buy a house."

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63 US TX: Black Residents Don't Want War On Drugs To Get Out Of HandTue, 13 Jul 2004
Source:Courier, The (TX) Author:Durham, Erika E. Area:Texas Lines:79 Added:07/13/2004

A concern about police conduct and respect for citizens' rights in the crackdown, to start Aug. 1, brought about 20 residents to the municipal courtroom to meet with Conroe Police Chief Charlie Ray. The meeting placed individual citizens and community organizations of Dugan, the mostly black area the crackdown will target, in a position to ask questions and express their concerns.

The War on Drugs in Conroe was declared in June by Mayor Tommy Metcalf and supported by Ray. It has already received unanimous approval from the City Council to be funded from a citation collection agency. The effort will include more officers and undisclosed tactics to the tune of more than $300,000 between Aug. 1 and Sep. 2005. Monday night many citizens made reference to the crackdown as "the mayor's plan" since he first introduced the idea and the funding source. However, Mayor Tommy Metcalf was not present at the meeting due to a previous family obligation.

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64 US TX: Chapman Changes Fates Of 'Tulia Defendants'Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Source:Athens Review (TX) Author:Larson, Jayson Area:Texas Lines:65 Added:07/10/2004

Judge Ron Chapman has played a key role in changing the fates of the "Tulia defendants" caught up in a West Texas drug scandal five years ago.

Chapman, a Trinidad resident and former 5th District congressional candidate, is now nearing the end of his task.

Interviews between Chapman and the 45 Tulia residents victimized in the scandal are likely to conclude this week, the judge said, and $4 million in settlement money from a civil rights lawsuit could be dispersed by next week. Chapman was asked to determine how the settlement money from a federal lawsuit against the multi-county task force was to be dispersed among the defendants.

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65 US TX: $1.7 Million To Go Toward Drug-FightingTue, 06 Jul 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Cunningham, Greg Area:Texas Lines:94 Added:07/06/2004

Local Officials Working On Plan To Use Money From Drug Task Force

Gov. Rick Perry will apparently get his way with $1.7 million in money left over from the Panhandle's now-defunct drug task force. Local officials have decided to get together and work out a plan to use the money - seized over the years by the former task force - to pay for local drug-fighting programs that the governor's office refused to fund. "I talked to (the governor's office), and I don't think they're going to change their mind any," Amarillo Police Chief Jerry Neal said. "We certainly don't agree with this, but it looks like we're going to have to go with what they want."

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66 US TX: Perry's office: Money For Drug Fight In BankWed, 30 Jun 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Cunningham, Greg Area:Texas Lines:123 Added:07/02/2004

Spokesman Says $1.7 Million Available

The fight over funding to replace the Panhandle's regional drug task force got a little more complicated this week, with Gov. Rick Perry's office telling local officials to look closer to home for the money they are seeking. Robert Black, spokesman for Perry, said Tuesday the Panhandle has plenty of money for fighting narcotics, but it is up to Amarillo's local government to access that money.

"There is, right now, $1.7 million in the bank with the city of Amarillo," Black said. "That's program income money left over from the task force that they could be putting to use. Instead, they came to us with their hand out looking for new money when they have the money right now."

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67 US TX: Byrne Money Could Pay For Coleman ProsecutionWed, 30 Jun 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Cunningham, Greg Area:Texas Lines:76 Added:07/01/2004

In what could be the mother of all ironies stemming from the Tulia drug bust, one of the few federal narcotics grants coming to the Panhandle next year could be used to prosecute the man some say cost the area its drug task force and hundreds of thousands in federal dollars.

Gov. Rick Perry's Criminal Justice Division is considering is a $57,000 grant to Swisher County to pay for the prosecution of Tom Coleman, the undercover agent who conducted the Tulia drug sting.

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68 US TX: Drug-Fighting Funds RejectedFri, 25 Jun 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Cunningham, Greg Area:Texas Lines:87 Added:06/25/2004

Perry Nixes Request To Replace Lost Task Force Money

Panhandle officials are steamed at Gov. Rick Perry after his office rejected an application to replace money lost when the area's narcotics task force was disbanded last month. In a brief letter received by the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission Wednesday, the governor's Criminal Justice Division rejected the application for narcotics fighting funds. The funds would have replaced money lost when the Panhandle's own drug task force was dissolved in the wake of the controversial Tulia drug sting.

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69US TX: Second Chances Prove Elusive For Tulia DefendantsSun, 20 Jun 2004
Source:Houston Chronicle (TX) Author:Peabody, Zanto Area:Texas Lines:Excerpt Added:06/20/2004

TULIA -- Showroom-new SUVs line the nubby roads that intersect Sixth Street. The vehicles -- a loaded Ford Explorer, a Ford Expedition, a convertible PT Cruiser, among others -- are the only outward signs of the renewal of lives lost.

A year ago, the cars were not there. Some of the drivers weren't there, either. They were in prison for drug crimes they may not have committed; their convictions were based on testimony from an undercover officer now charged with perjury.

Last June, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill freeing those who were still in prison, but their legal battles continue as they try to get the bogus convictions expunged.

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70 US TX: Raising The Bar In TuliaSat, 19 Jun 2004
Source:Texas Observer (TX)          Area:Texas Lines:60 Added:06/19/2004

Terry McEachern may soon discover what it's like to sit in the defendant's chair in a Swisher County courtroom. The now lame-duck district attorney prosecuted the convictions of 38 mostly black defendants swept up in the now-infamous 1999 Tulia drug sting. McEachern charged small-time drug users as dealers and then lied to judges and defense lawyers to secure decades-long prison sentences. On May 26, the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary petition against McEachern with the Texas Supreme Court, the first step toward disbarring the prosecutor. In the coming months, the state Supreme Court will review the complaint and likely assign a visiting district judge to preside over the case in a Swisher County civil court. If McEachern is found guilty, he faces suspension, reprimand or disbarment, says the state bar's Mark Pinckard. Observer readers know the Tulia story well thanks to the groundbreaking reporting of former editor Nate Blakeslee, whose story in these pages ["Color of Justice," June 23, 2000] exposed the tangled past of narcotics agent Tom Coleman. Coleman's uncorroborated undercover work resulted in the arrest of 10 percent of Tulia's black population.

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71 US TX: Judge To Allocate Millions In Tulia SettlementSat, 19 Jun 2004
Source:Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)          Area:Texas Lines:109 Added:06/19/2004

TULIA, Texas - A judge who ruled that an undercover agent in the now discredited 1999 Tulia drug busts was not a credible witness is returning to this West Texas town - this time to decide how to divvy up a $6 million settlement among 45 defendants.

The Tulia cases brought national attention to this farming and ranching town of about 5,000 between Amarillo and Lubbock. Several civil rights groups claimed the drug arrests were racially motivated because 39 of the 46 arrested or charged in the 18-month operation were black. The agent was white.

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72 US TX: New Suit Filed against Task ForceFri, 11 Jun 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Cunningham, Greg Area:Texas Lines:118 Added:06/15/2004

Man Claims He Suffered Abuse During 2001 Drug Raid

Almost two months after it was settled, the specter of the Tulia drug bust lawsuit still hangs over the Texas Panhandle, haunting city and county officials who were wrong if they thought they were done with the controversy. The latest incarnation of the Tulia suit comes in the form of a federal suit, similar in form to the Tulia action, that was filed this year by an Amarillo man who says he was abused by members of the same drug task force that conducted the controversial 1999 Tulia drug sting.

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73 US TX: Narcotics Unit Getting Word OutMon, 14 Jun 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Abbey, Kris Area:Texas Lines:38 Added:06/14/2004

The Amarillo Police Department Narcotics Unit is getting the word out. "We'll let the dopers know they won't be tolerated," said APD Sgt. Brent Clay.

The narcotics unit is dedicated to drug enforcement inside Amarillo in the wake of the recent breakup of the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force.

"We're just tired of all the negative publicity," Clay said, referring to the Tulia case.

One way to create "good news" is to fax press releases to local media outlets every time the unit makes a drug bust in Amarillo, he said.

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74 US TX: Column: War On Drugs Is A Losing Battle For AmericaSat, 05 Jun 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Mosteller, Billy Area:Texas Lines:81 Added:06/05/2004

Amarillo is searching for a new way to fund its drug enforcement division after the city had to pay those who were wrongly accused in the Tulia drug sting and after dropping out of and effectively dissolving the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force. Perhaps now is a good time for the people of the Panhandle to think about the war on drugs, since it will most likely affect their taxes in the near future.

Many drugs that are illegal are very dangerous substances. But why are they so dangerous? With most drugs, they are dangerous or they are made more dangerous because of their illegal status. Let's consider methamphetamine, for instance. Were meth labs as common in the 1970s as they are today? No, because methamphetamines were easier to come by. But as laws changed in an attempt to reduce meth use, more inventive and dangerous ways of producing it were put into practice.

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75 US TX: PUB LTE: Blackmail Not Necessarily A Bad Thing On DrugSun, 30 May 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Heath, Stephen Area:Texas Lines:40 Added:06/01/2004

David Maas (May 21 letter, "Tulia blackmail sets bad precedent") is correct that the actions of the drug task force which oversaw the controversial Tulia cases in 1999 are going to cost taxpayers across the Panhandle huge amounts. He also is correct that a precedent has been set - future arrestees may seek legal counsel to investigate the actions of law enforcement involved in their own cases.

However he is incorrect that this is a "bad" precedent.

In fact, this sounds like a great precedent to me. Perhaps now the future actions and tactics employed by police in not only Northwest Texas, but also nationwide, more likely will respect proper legal and constitutional protocol.

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76 US TX: Cities, Counties Plan AheadFri, 28 May 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX) Author:Cunningham, Greg Area:Texas Lines:104 Added:05/29/2004

Entities Want Money Once Targeted To Task Force

The Amarillo Globe-News Cities and counties across the Texas Panhandle are making a play to hang on to federal funds that used to go to the region's soon-to-be-defunct narcotics task force. The Panhandle Regional Planning Commission gave approval Thursday to a grant application that would keep some of the lost funds in the area for use in youth drug treatment and drug-lab interdiction.

"We're trying to do something in advance of the end of this task force," said John Kiehl, regional services director with the PRPC. "The problem with the loss of this group is there will be a lot of communities and counties that will be left to hang with a drug problem that is not going away."

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77US TX: Bar Files Petition Against MceachernThu, 27 May 2004
Source:Plainview Daily Herald (TX)          Area:Texas Lines:Excerpt Added:05/28/2004

Officials from the State Bar of Texas took the next step in their disciplinary action against Hale and Swisher Counties District Attorney Terry McEachern, the prosecutor in the controversial 1999 Tulia drug bust.

The State Bar on Wednesday filed a disciplinary petition against McEachern with the Texas Supreme Court, the next step in the process of bringing the disciplinary action to trial. McEachern opted for a public jury civil trial rather than an administrative hearing. The trial would likely be held in Plainview before the end of the year. If he loses the trial, McEachern will face punishment ranging from a public reprimand to disbarment.

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78 US DC: OPED: Beyond What Bill Cosby SaidThu, 27 May 2004
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Shaw, Theodore Area:District of Columbia Lines:95 Added:05/27/2004

Bill Cosby is a beloved icon. So it gave me no pleasure to follow him to the stage at Constitution Hall on May 17, the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, after listening to his remarks.

For his philanthropy toward institutions that have worked on behalf of African Americans, Cosby was being honored by the three institutions, including the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, that share responsibility for winning the Supreme Court decision that broke the back of American apartheid. In his acceptance remarks, however, Cosby told the well-heeled, black-tie audience that "the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal."

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79 US TX: Editorial: Tulia Drug Sting Still StingingWed, 26 May 2004
Source:Amarillo Globe-News (TX)          Area:Texas Lines:50 Added:05/26/2004

Potter County left with no choice.

The aftershocks of the controversial 1999 Tulia drug sting continue to rattle in Amarillo. Left with few alternatives, Potter County commissioners unanimously approved Monday a resolution for a grant application to the Governor's Criminal Justice Division.

The grant will partially fund the salary for an assistant district attorney whose sole responsibility is the prosecution of drug offenses and also pay for training for the sheriff's department to handle the cleanup of methamphetamine labs. This is the cost of doing business these days when those ultimately responsible for wrongdoing are not as accountable as those culpable in name only.

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80US TX: ACLU Wants Drug Squads GoneMon, 24 May 2004
Source:Houston Chronicle (TX) Author:McVicker, Steve Area:Texas Lines:Excerpt Added:05/24/2004

State Group's Report Says Task Forces Target Minorities

Regional narcotics task forces like the one that led to the ill-fated roundup in Tulia five years ago should be disbanded and their funding used to enhance other aspects of law enforcement, according to a new report.

The 18-page "Flawed Enforcement" study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas also charges that the task forces ignore the stated mandate of the federal agency that funds them of focusing on "violent crime and serious offenders."

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