Newsbrief: Lying Tulia Undercover Cop Indicted for Perjury 4/25/03

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It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Tom Coleman, the undercover cop whose one-man narcotics task force led to the arrest of 46 people, 39 of them black, in Tulia, TX, in 1999, was indicted by a Swisher County grand jury on three counts of aggravated perjury Thursday. He faces two to ten years in prison on each count if convicted.

The indictments came in the wake of Coleman's testimony last month during an evidentiary hearing into the cases ordered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The judge hearing that case, retired State District Judge Ron Chapman, recommended that 38 convictions based on Coleman's work in Tulia be dismissed. Coleman simply couldn't be believed, said Chapman. "It is stipulated by all parties and approved by the court that Tom Coleman is simply not a credible witness under oath," Chapman noted. Chapman claimed to have made numerous drug buys, but failed to provide audio or video recordings of his solo work and sometimes worked without notes. Some defendants were able to prove that Coleman had identified them incorrectly, others that Coleman had placed them in Tulia when they were hundreds of miles away. In his testimony last month, Coleman was even weaker than during the trials, claiming to have forgotten key information while continuing to assert his truthfulness.

Of the 46 people indicted on the basis of Coleman's uncorroborated undercover work, eight were found guilty at trial and 27 pleaded guilty. Eight cases were thrown out earlier. Thirteen people remain behind prison bars, although they are likely to be freed once the Court of Criminal Appeals upholds Chapman's recommendation.

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Issue #284, 4/25/03 Editorial: International Singularity | Vienna: UN Reaffirms Prohibitionist Path, Cracks Appear in the Consensus as Clamor for Change Grows | Peru: Coca Farmers Claim Partial Victory After Meeting With President | If It's 20-Apr and We're in San Francisco, This Must Be NORML | California County, Patients Sue Federal Drug Warriors Over Medical Marijuana Raids | Newsbrief: Lying Tulia Undercover Cop Indicted for Perjury | Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Unveil Marijuana Decriminalization Bill in June, Newspaper Says | Newsbrief: Brazilian Health Ministry Proposes Legalization of Drug Possession | Newsbrief: Russia Declares War on Drug Barons | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | New WOLA Report on Mexico's Military in the War on Drugs | The Reformer's Calendar

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