Governor Perry and Senator Cornyn subpoenaed
- AP: 61 witnesses subpoenaed by special prosecutors in
the Coleman trial, including Gov. Perry and John
Jury selection begins for former Tulia agent
By BETSY BLANEY �/�Associated Press
A judge began questioning a pool of 101 prospective
jurors Monday in the perjury trial of a former police
officer whose discredited Tulia drug busts put dozens
of people in prison.
Lawyers were expected to question them later Monday in
the case of Tom Coleman, who could face up to 10 years
in prison and a $10,000 fine on each of three felony
charges of aggravated perjury. The trial centers on
whether Coleman lied about his own arrest record
during evidentiary hearings for some of the defendants
John H. Read II, one of Coleman's attorneys, said
retired state district judge Ron Chapman wrongly
stopped Coleman's testimony during the hearings after
he, defense attorneys and prosecutors concluded
Coleman was not a credible witness.
"He wasn't able to explain what he said at the hearing
because it wasn't handled properly," Read said. "They
never let him come back and clear up the
Coleman used no audio or video surveillance to
substantiate drug buys he said he made while working
in Tulia as an undercover agent for the Panhandle
Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force.
No drugs or money were found during the arrests. He
worked alone and kept no written records of his drug
buys, except for incident reports, some which were
later determined to be false.
Following the 18 months in the late 1990s in which
Coleman built cases and made arrests, 38 people � most
of them black � were convicted of selling small
amounts of cocaine and received sentences of up to 90
years apiece. Coleman is white.
The cases received international attention after civil
rights groups, including the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People, questioned whether
the drug busts were racially motivated.
Joe Welton Moore, who spent four years in prison as
one of Coleman's drug busts, said he planned to watch
the trial. He was sentenced to 90 years and was later
among dozens of people in the case who were pardoned
on a judge's recommendation after a 2003 hearing to
determine if some of the 46 arrested in the small
farming community received fair trials.
Moore was supposedly the drug kingpin of Tulia even
though he lived in a rundown house with hog pens on
the property. After a one-day trial, Moore, who had a
previous narcotics felony on his record, was
Despite losing his farm and spending four years in
prison, Moore said he doesn't want Coleman to go to
prison. "Prison ain't no good place to be," Moore
In August 2003, Gov. Rick Perry pardoned 35 of the 38
defendants who went to trial or accepted plea
agreements. Last year, 45 of those arrested split a $6
million settlement of a civil rights lawsuit against
Coleman and the 26 counties and three cities that were
involved with the task force.
Prosecutor Rod Hobson declined to comment. However,
Perry and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who was Texas
attorney general at the time of the drug busts, are
among the 61 witnesses Hobson's office has subpoenaed
The trial is expected to last about a week.