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04/03/2003 Archived Entry: "Tulia, Texas overturns mass drug convictions"
TULIA, TEXAS: WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD. In 1999, Tulia, Texas, population 5,000, convicted nearly one-tenth of its black citizens of drug crimes, following a highly publicized midnight mass arrest. Forty-six were dragged out of their beds and charged. The testimony of a single undercover cop convicted 38 of them. Now the prosecutors and a judge have figured out what a kindergarten dropout could have told them: that Nice Mr. Police Officer wasn't quiiiiite telling the truth. (The utter absence of video or audio tapes of the supposed "drug transactions," and the failure to dust the alleged evidence for fingerprints should have been A Clue. Multiple Clues, even.)
Anyhow, the judge and prosecutors are now asking an appeals court to overturn all 38 convictions. The victims -- several of whom are still in prison -- have agreed to a paltry sum in exchange for not suing Swisher County, where Tulia is located. But they're perfectly free to sue the federally funded (are we surprised?) task force that helped inflict the odious Officer Tom Coleman upon them in the first place.
No word yet on why Officer Coleman himself isn't cozied up in a 6 x 8 cell with several horny Hells Angels.
(Here's another story that puts the Tulia tragedy in the larger context of the Drug War.)
Posted by Claire @ 10:00 AM CST